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DU NEEDS ONE MORE RELEASE BEFORE LAUNCH... BUT IT'S GOTTA BE THE BEST RELEASE EVER.


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PROBLEM:

 

Most will agree NQ appear to be running low on resources, but also that the game is not release-ready.

 

NQ are also sitting on a huge opportunity in the gaming marketplace. Minecraft and Roblox are both multi-billion dollar franchises with 100s of millions of players, and paying out a demographic dividend of a user base outgrowing "children's" games and looking for an adult equivalent. Minecraft av. player age is now >25 yrs. while 15% of Roblox players or ~30 million players are over 25yrs. Both these franchises started by small indy studios demonstrating the magnifying effect of properly leveraging user-generated content (UGC). Both are rich in lessons learned. Meanwhile, the apparent focus on collecting refugees from EVE Online (of which I am one) is a dead end. It's a mid-tier <500k player game and the whole studio is worth a measly $500m. Done right, there's no reason NQ couldn't be sitting on a billion dollar franchise as well.

 

But this huge opportunity is time-sensitive. If they don't captivate some market share soon, they'll be competing with an improved version of SC, and Bethesda's incoming behemoth Starfield.

 

Releasing now is death. 

 

Taking too long to release is also death. 

 

Getting one more release right, and launching well equals a massive potential for gaming conquest.

 

SOLUTION:

 

The right combination of fast, low-cost dev options and some bold new creativity, is required.

 

Here are my TOP 5 suggestions: 

 

1) Basic 1HP voxel-eating critters with an engineerable solution. A simple PVE loop, like the early addition of Creepers in Minecraft, is not as good as full PVE (or territory warfare) but pays a disproportionate dividend and signals intent, and franchise potential - while also adding to immersion, game lore, suspension of disbelief.

 

(It's also totally impossible in any universe that trees evolve with no complex carbon-based life. During Earth's Carboniferous period when trees first evolved, there were already 10ft long centipedes and giant dragonflies. We can even hear them already, for crying out loud.)

 

Even better, critter populations could also be weighted to resources on the tile (i.e.: high value resources require more effort to secure than just getting to the tile first.) But it has to be kept simple for now - no elaborate combat system, Just shoot a critter with your Skittles laser, one hit one kill. And it only attacks a structure when you're logged in, and nearby. It can be iterated on later. 

 

2) A cool new toy with every release - and a commitment to continue this into the future. This is straight our of the early Minecraft playbook as well. In the first year when Creepers, Skellies, red stone, pistons, Villagers, new mobs were dropping with each release, the franchise grew exponentially. For NQ, add something exciting with every drop - a tractor beam, ship-mounted asteroid mining laser, a programmable hinge that lets you connect two constructs... There are many more options (wheels, walker legs...) but they require too much dev time for right now. Put those on a list for the future. 

 

Notes on a hinge: Why am I banging on about hinges? Well, I was there pre-alpha when Minecraft first added pistons. The boost on chatter and subs of players messing around with the new tech for months was massive. It was vital (along with adding red stone, which we already have in the form of LUA) to Minecraft's' early success. A simple addition like this pays a disproportionate dividend, ignites player interest, signals intent, and franchise potential.  A simple programmable hinge between constructs (along with a multi-core BP) keeps players busy for years figuring out ways to utilise the physics - gates, draw-bridges, giant ship grabbers, prisons, jumping/walking constructs, articulating craft, obstacle courses... and probably a hundred more things I can't think of. But that's the whole point. 

 

3) Reverse dispenser w/ LUA money API. This has been a gaping hole forever, and now sounds close (?) But the simple ability to read container contents and make pay-outs without having to do manual wallet transfers, answers the cries for player-run markets that were promised in the Kickstarter. We can then build our own merchant systems the same way players have built HUDS, while also opening up a million new gameplay options: Insurance companies. Interest, banks and lenders. Stock markets. Salary payments and loot sharing systems. Combine this with 'physical' coins - 1 quanta item with a fixed value that can be bought, sold, stored and shipped like real cash - for even more gameplay opportunities, and a more liquid economy.

 

But most importantly,  the ability to script payments creates an incentive system for players to leverage and invest in player-generated gameplay loops: in-game puzzles, racing, treasure hunts, obstacle courses, and so on. This is probably the biggest opportunity of all, since it's essential the whole business model of Roblox - now the biggest franchise in the world. Let the players create games for other players. One player-created obstacle course in Roblox 'Tower of Hell' has been visited 17 billion times, just to get their name on a leaderboard.  The popular community-run activities in DU today - AD's Dome, Friday Night Racing - could be just the beginning. The desire is there, just not the tools. Which also brings us to...

 

4) Full Rep System. If every player had a rep score with every org, and every org with every org, it creates an additional incentive system for player-generated gameplay loops (win rep with my org by delivering my goods... or winning at my challenges) while also helping self-police bad behaviour. A banking system doesn't work without a form of credit history. No in-game games work without ensuring opponent's play fair. 

 

Better still, an aggregated rep score for each player built up from their rep with each org, multiplied by that orgs rep with other orgs (so a rep point with a high-rep org is worth more), provides a single metric for all performance while also self-reinforcing the value of rep. I want to get my rep score up, because then my score of someone else more highly valued. Easily built and implemented.

 

[EDIT: Possible rep algorithm described 2 posts below...]

 

5) 'Test flight' option. Spawn a time-limited copy of the ship on 'pilot only' RDMS. This adds significantly to the FTUE since new plays can go flying in space within minutes of getting started in the game, and give them of taste of what they can work towards when they build/buy a ship. Doing it inside the game world adds to immersion, but spawning in a tutorial-style space is probably easier to code. At the moment, handing someone who just bought a space game a flying bicycle to start out, is underwhelming. 

 

SUMMING UP:

 

There are many more even more exciting new features I'd wish for (e.g.: drones w/ no collision damage or weapons capability, combined with the ability to have multiple controllers running at once incl. while far away, logged out, or operating another construct OR a smoother way to parse a RNG variable in LUA back the server to sync between clients) but they all have significant dev cost, or don't work on a client-side engine, and as such are wishful thinking at this point.

 

But one more release crammed with 1-5 above would be a game changer. Everything else can go on a roadmap, if NQ build enough social collateral with the next release. 

 

Most important of all though, to get the final moonshot right, NQ must consider their own TOP 5 deeply, think well outside the current paradigm, and canvas players for input.

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Yeah, true, the rep system needs some thought - to keep it simple would rely on players giving persistent rep points to other players, and org agents doing the same on behalf of an org. The algorithm would be something like:

 

my rep score = SUM OF [points awarded to me by any player or org ÷ total points issued by issuing player-org* x rep score of issuing player-org** x time subscribed***]

 

...with 5 important caveats:

 

 - This logic of weighting value of points (* above) serves several purposes: It normalises points issued across orgs/players - I might be handing out millions, while others are issuing 1 at a time. But the weighting must be based on the base values at the time they're issued, since I could change tactics later. This also gives the issued points their intrinsic value, since the more points I hand out, the lower the value of my individual points - thereby incentivising me not to just hand points out to anyone. It does away with the need to limit points issued by either a financial cost or other false cap (e.g.: only issuing as many points as you've earned.)

 

- All players orgs must start with a base non-zero value or the algorithm fails (** above)

 

- Weighting by time played - capped at launch - (*** above) means we're all effectively earning more points to spend with time, while also gaining credibility for playing for longer, so you can't just spin up a bunch of new orgs and alts to game the system. 

 

- Total SUM is necessary, rather than an average, to avoid gaming with a high score from a single 3rd-party and to incentivise dealing with as many other parties as possible. It also means a org rating quickly becomes more valuable than a rating from a single player.

 

- You do need to be able to look up the players profile and see where their points have come from. Transparency is key to an effective 'points' marketplace. Players will quickly figure out if my rep score is bogus, or has been gamed through reciprocal arrangements or org stacking by double-checking on my profile.

 

- The fact you can just buy points from someone else may sound broken, but it's actually a feature - since you can then be remunerated for building up your own rep and selling your points to others with the important caveat above that I need to be able to see if a rich org just paid for it's rep.

 

[EDIT: I've looked around at other rep systems, but it occurs to be it must be bespoke since the dynamics of players, orgs, and subs are all unique to DU.]

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Yes, DU is far from "release ready" .. I do not think anyone, including NQ, is going to argue differently. Frankly, the game is not even in an actual beta state yet, regardless of what label is put on.

 

But NQ has no choice in this anymore I'm sure. They have to push the game out the door and move on as the money jar is empty to the point they need to move what devs they have to a new project which may help them refill it as it is not very likely DU will be self sufficient, let alone generate profits for many. many quarters, if ever.

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9 minutes ago, blazemonger said:

Yes, DU is far from "release ready" .. I do not think anyone, including NQ, is going to argue differently. Frankly, the game is not even in an actual beta state yet, regardless of what label is put on.

 

But NQ has no choice in this anymore I'm sure. They have to push the game out the door and move on as the money jar is empty to the point they need to move what devs they have to a new project which may help them refill it as it is not very likely DU will be self sufficient, let alone generate profits for many. many quarters, if ever.

I fear you're right, but I hope the investors are bold and ambitious enough to give the lemon one more squeeze. If done right, their equity is far safer. If they're really tapped out, I'd do another small round of capital-raising before pushing the product. Re-energizing the player-base is also a force-multiplier in word of mouth for launch.

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@Megabosslord
If NQ had another 10million to spend they might be able to get the game actually done to apoint where it becomes viable as it would probably buy them another 12-18 months.

I think DU is not that far away from a place where it goes from "not ready for release" to "good enough to release". I can't see the game become great just yet, but another year would probably give NQ a lot of breathing space and over time increase the chance of them bringing in enough to start generating some ROI for VC investors.

But I honestly think that the VC took their loss and left the building so now NQ is left to fend for themselves. If more capital would have come in, we would have heard about it.

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When I clearly mostly agree with you on most of your points, some I do not agree :
 

Quote

 

3) Reverse dispenser w/ LUA money API. This has been a gaping hole forever, and now sounds close (?) But the simple ability to read container contents and make pay-outs without having to do manual wallet transfers, answers the cries for player-run markets that were promised in the Kickstarter. We can then build our own merchant systems the same way players have built HUDS, while also opening up a million new gameplay options: Insurance companies. Interest, banks and lenders. Stock markets. Salary payments and loot sharing systems. Combine this with 'physical' coins - 1 quanta item with a fixed value that can be bought, sold, stored and shipped like real cash - for even more gameplay opportunities, and a more liquid economy.

 

But most importantly,  the ability to script payments creates an incentive system for players to leverage and invest in player-generated gameplay loops: in-game puzzles, racing, treasure hunts, obstacle courses, and so on. This is probably the biggest opportunity of all, since it's essential the whole business model of Roblox - now the biggest franchise in the world. Let the players create games for other players. One player-created obstacle course in Roblox 'Tower of Hell' has been visited 17 billion times, just to get their name on a leaderboard.  The popular community-run activities in DU today - AD's Dome, Friday Night Racing - could be just the beginning. The desire is there, just not the tools. Which also brings us to...

 


I do not agree on the assumption of "simple", which is always the thing that make people angry. It's because they all things everything is simple.

You know me, and I'm an 1 000 000% Lua supporter, but there is clearly a security issue on Lua wallet API (this subject has been discussed and NQ commented here ). Indeed, Lua can be in realtime  memory edited if you want to and so change the prices/wallet id ...etc So means critical feature, and complex, however a reversed dispenser elements could be done I think, but not necessarily easy.

So it's not simple. And the same of other points in my opinion.

However, I think we can "assume" that NQ HAVE to release the game, even if they would spend more time on it before. So in my personnal opinion, it would be to continue to support/play the game to allow the game to not be an economic disaster and let NQ have incomes to improve, add new things to the game.

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On this point neither, I do not think it's THAT easy on DU :

 

Quote

 

2) A cool new toy with every release - and a commitment to continue this into the future. This is straight our of the early Minecraft playbook as well. In the first year when Creepers, Skellies, red stone, pistons, Villagers, new mobs were dropping with each release, the franchise grew exponentially. For NQ, add something exciting with every drop - a tractor beam, ship-mounted asteroid mining laser, a programmable hinge that lets you connect two constructs... There are many more options (wheels, walker legs...) but they require too much dev time for right now. Put those on a list for the future. 

 

Notes on a hinge: Why am I banging on about hinges? Well, I was there pre-alpha when Minecraft first added pistons. The boost on chatter and subs of players messing around with the new tech for months was massive. It was vital (along with adding red stone, which we already have in the form of LUA) to Minecraft's' early success. A simple addition like this pays a disproportionate dividend, ignites player interest, signals intent, and franchise potential.  A simple programmable hinge between constructs (along with a multi-core BP) keeps players busy for years figuring out ways to utilise the physics - gates, draw-bridges, giant ship grabbers, prisons, jumping/walking constructs, articulating craft, obstacle courses... and probably a hundred more things I can't think of. But that's the whole point. 

 


There is many aspects to consider (collisions with parents, synchronisation between players, collisions with ground ...etc). I think there is reasons why there is nothing to have to separated constructs physicaly linked token since the beginning ; even I would love it. I'm not sure but I think I remember a development video that talked about this in the early years of the project.

And so I assume all aspect of weels/walker legs/hinge/rotating motors ...etc would not be feasible, or not feasible without a large rework of their system.

I think, the most "feasible" would be a tractor beam, but feasible do not mean release ready, even more when I think about the art work (design models can take more times than people think), development and testings.

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@Elias Villd The fixed-price physical coins option is certainly the easiest to implement and it opens a workaround for a 'Reverse Dispenser' in that you can then control access to a normal dispenser using a combination of doors and sensors, and dispense coins to a recipient. But it's complex for the player to implement, multiple points of failure (e.g.: connection lost during the access control process), and also open to exploitation since you can easily lag-clip thru doors/sensors and abuse logout/login. (I had this working for my casino payout booths, and was going to pay out wins in warp cores since they seemed like the most stably priced commodity, then I watched the price heave and would have lost millions. It's also why I built the 'lag box' to test how hard it was to bypass the booth security. Don't even ask. For these two reasons alone 6 mths of work on the casino - well before Oasis existed - were abandoned.)

 

The best compromise - short of implementing a robust system (which I still don't think is monumentally hard) is that payments out from the Reverse Dispenser go into a pending state that can be batch approved. Still far preferable to manually tallying up pay-outs, looking up players IDs in the current interface, typing in values, and tracking it all offline. The current payment system is godawful for high-volume transactions. 

 

As for the hinge, again there's a simple compromise if you don't want to deal with toggling off collision between hinged constructs (again, shouldn't be nightmarishly hard, but anyway), and that's to start by only implementing it with static and space cores. Not as good, but still a step in the right direction that can be built on later. 

 

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If you think that DU is even in the same ballpark as Minecraft or Roblox, you're not looking at DU with clear eyes! DU is in a nich-nich, maybe even more limited in potential then EVE Online...

 

DU will stay a niche within a niche, there are 8B people on the world, and that's increasing by the second! More and more are getting connected to the Internet. What NQ needs to concentrate on is player retention instead of competing with Mega IPs...

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I am not going to comment on the ideas, but the scope of them is like 2 years of development at 'NQ' pace..

 

And I get a strong feeling that NQ is knee deep in technical dept holding them back and causing lots of problems. And we told them (many, many times) this would happen with the way they did large patches on top of shaky foundations and never focused on bugs during the pre-test and alpha days.

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4 hours ago, Cergorach said:

If you think that DU is even in the same ballpark as Minecraft or Roblox, you're not looking at DU with clear eyes! DU is in a nich-nich, maybe even more limited in potential then EVE Online...

 

DU will stay a niche within a niche, there are 8B people on the world, and that's increasing by the second! More and more are getting connected to the Internet. What NQ needs to concentrate on is player retention instead of competing with Mega IPs...

 

Agreed, it needs more than a few shallow changes to gain the mainstream appeal that other games have...

 

I've seen posts about how much "potential" DU has for years and years. I'm not convinced that potential was ever real, though...because DU never had any real focus.

 

It promised to be a game where you can do anything and be anyone: build, mine, trade, industry, pvp, politics, civilization...

 

A game that tries to appeal to everyone will seem like it has limitless "potential", but only because it isn't realistic.

 

In reality, the design was never concrete enough to capture even a fraction of this "potential".
In reality, the "cutting edge" tech that was supposed to allow "millions" of players to share a world was never going to work and has never worked even at tiny populations. 
In reality, the game is far too niche and hardcore to scale its player-base enough to achieve its unrealistic vision...a vision created by someone that hadn't ever worked in games before (or even had significant experience in commercial software development). 

 

But all that aside....let's be realistic, here.

 

NQ can't even make one simple choice about a wipe....so I don't think it is realistic to expect them to make hard choices on their top 5 goals pre-release and still have enough time to test that those changes for both scalability and bugs. 

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1 hour ago, blundertwink said:

Agreed, it needs more than a few shallow changes to gain the mainstream appeal that other games have...

Honestly, the vision of DU as presented in the KS are just not compatible with mainstream appeal.

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These are interesting ideas but you're suggesting turning DU into a completely different sort of game now.  Minecraft players still have minecraft and Roblox players still have roblox.  For DU to compete against these games they would need to be offering something better and that's not what DU is.  DU is not a better minecraft than minecraft and it isn't a better roblox than roblox.

 

What DU was meant to be is a persistent world MMO in a sci-fi setting g.  That's something completely different from either of the games you mentioned and is going to have a completely different audience.  Eve online, on the other hand, is a persistent world mmo in a sci-fi setting.  It's not a completely stupid place to go looking for potential DU players.

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DU is not Minecraft, DU is Since Fiction in space and therefore it is a niche game.

 

But yes there are many things that would enrich the game and also attract enough players to make DU something bigger.

But NQ has to go its own way and not copy things from other games. But how long should this take, if NQ already discusses about the wipe or not wipe months, how long do they discuss about new features.

 

I have the feeling that NQ also lacks imagination,  manpower and that they have wasted too much time for changes to the old features (such as the former mining system) and changed it for the worse.

 

Where is the new roadmap anyway? or do they not dare to show it anymore because it is not feasible?

 

There is too much ore, asteroid mining is superfluous, the sales bots should be taken off the market, players should be able to produce bluprints in some way,
Consumption must be created, etc.

 

Before NQ have not implemented a working economic system, NQ really do not need to think about new features or a wipe, even a release, oh i forgot, they need money.

It's sad when after 8 years not even the core features are fully implemented in the game.

 

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