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When the White Knights turn Black (an open letter to the community and NQ)


Gunhand
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Hello everyone,

here is a lengthy impression from a noob, who has not followed the game prior to "release", not been in beta.

 

I actually joined this game by chance because I was frustrated with Star Citizen being not a playworthy game after 10+ years of development / funding campaign and a budget of a frecking half a billion dollars. In a rant about SC someone mentioned DU, I pictured it as a mix of minecraft and space engineers (with simplified physics though) but as a MMO.

The possiblilities for constructions and on top of that a seemingly powerful scripting layer sounded amazing. Good enough for me for starters, even if subscription-based.

 

The first worrying thing I noticed (apart from bugs), people asking in the help channel for an admin and being told, those are not reading this channel and the only option to get your problems fixed ("maybe" and after a period of "days") is to file a help ticket. Customer support seems non-existing or only in a homeopathic dosage. On a game that allegedly has been released AND is subscription-based, I want to point out again!

 

The bugs I and others encountered (on my side primarily regarding the daily challenges) seem to be around for years according to people that played the game from the start of alpha.

 

Now don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun in this game, even though I did little more than building up an industry, moved to Alioth after six weeks I spent wasting to build a mediocre space ship, found a nice org, moved to their HQ and rebuilt my industry again. I have not been to other planets apart from Haven and Alioth, no T2+ mining bases, no PVP, etc

 

What I conclude until now is, that this game is not much more than a sceleton of game content around mining, industry, construction and ship building. Everything feels not fleshed out, rather prototypical and quite incomplete, at least when judging from the perspective of "ordinary" games. The features that stand out, are the possibilities to create constructs and I dont know any other game that offers that to this degree (even if much more is imaginable). And that part gave me a lot of fun. I totally understand, that for someone who is not interested in that at all this game is devoid of worthwhile content.

 

In my personal game experience so far, the greatest challenge is to earn money, especially since the challenges are broken and the air delivery challenge got removed, which by the way I enjoyed quite bit, it tought me how to fly and was my main source of income (the space challenge is much less fun and even more bugged and less profitable so I skipped that most of the time). This is another observation I made: it seems to happen quite often that if a feature doesn't work in the game, it is not being fixed, it is not being improved, it's just being removed making the game even more bland.

 

Since it is hard to get money (maybe I am just too stupid, but it seems to happens to a lot of new players), game progress is even slower. I have a hard time to pay the rents for my 2 territories on Alioth and the schematics I need to build stuff. The only worthwhile mission is the 180k delivery on Alioth, which for me takes around 20 mins (though I frequently effed up my atmospheric reentry and damaged my ship so this mission becomes a loss, but of course this is on me). I would like to build up my base, but I can't afford an L-Core (not to speak of territory scanners and other 1million+ components), I would like to build ships, but I need to spend a lot of my play time to  get money by doing missions and produce the few articles that can be sold on the market with a margin, get my mining bases going, ferry around ore and products, etc.


 

What worries me a lot from a game development perspective, is the slow progress. And this seems to be the case for a long time, according to alpha veteran players.


In all honesty and of course my view is highly subjective, but at the moment this game feels like a disregarded bastard child that has been cast out to the streets in rags by its step-parents to beg for money in order to pay the debts of its dead father.

I am a SW developer myself and daresay, I have an idea what can be accomplished in a certain timeframe with a certain manpower. What has been anounced for the next patch, given the time frame of MONTHS is - again I feel sorry to say it - just outright loughable, close to customer fraught.

 

I have not followed the game development, I don't know what has been promised over time, what has been changed, who got fired or replaced and how that affected the development.

For now the game is enjoyable to me, especially since I found a nice org. We have great plans and want to build a city (no, not to rent apartments to people and nonsense like that) just for the sake of the challenge.

 

What I am worrying the most at the moment, is that NQ might not even have the ambition to bring this game further and make it successful. It _feels_ like it is being run on a sceleton crew just to get some subscription money to cut the investor's losses until it runs out of subscriptions and then is being shut down for good.

And these worries demotivate me to actually creat some awesome stuff in the game, because this takes a huge amount of time and effort. Who wants to do that when he is afraid that it all might be taken offline in a couple of months?

 

And that would really be a shame, because I see the potential.

 

DU is not the first game that has been thrown out to the market unfinished (not just unpolished) (No Man's Sky anyone?) and with technical difficulties. Most of these issues could be solved with further development.

 

A small example:

The problem with the delivery challenges not registering my delivery, therefore making the quest stuck forcing you to repeat it in total, could _probably_ be solved by giving the player a button on the progress screen (beside the container for the delivers) to activate a function that recounts the content in the container and set the mission progress accordingly. Or reset the progress and allow me to empty the container and fill it again.

 

A large example:

 do believe this game needs PvE as an additional game loop for players who shun PVP but want some action. From what I have seen so far, what is possible with scripting (like archHUD) to steer the behaviour of ships, this is not a far stretch from having automated ships that could act as NPCs. What else would be required

- a possibility for ships to function without player control. Maybe via an additional AI core, which makes the ship functional and fulfills some basic decision making (fly to a location in space, scan for targets, attack targets until destroyed, fly to next location, rince repeat until either dead or "finished with the patrol/out of ammo" fly back to the spawn point or end of mission point - reset ship)

- with the scripting possibilities the behaviour parameters can be randomized so that not very ship flies the same route, behaves the same, etc

- it would require a mechanism to spawn those ships, shouldn't be too hard, it works for asteroids, already

- We already have ships, there is not even a need to design new ones, they just need to be able to act as NPCs, a huge range of variants could be created

- I would strongly suggest that these NPC ships should also be able to fight and be thought in the protected zone not just in the outer PVP zone. NOf course not within the small zone around the celestial bodies and maybe not between Alioth, Haven and Sanctuary, to have a real peaceful area for new players. But in the outer region and around the planets at the rim of the protected zone it should be possible. Therefore this requires the possibility to activate your weapons and target NPC ships.
If PvE was only possible in the PvP zone this wouldcause rampant ganking issues of PvPers that hunt PvE-players, so there should be an PVE-only zone. But this does not rule out to have more challenging and more rewarding NPCs in the PvP zone which add another level of action and conflict and give PvPer an incentive to defend these areas against the cowardly "Inners" to have an edge in resource income.

 

This would give players the possibility to have some action, risk their lives and ships, and gain loot on success. For noobs like me having the chance to loot some Tier 3+ elements or voxel material (and maybe even other stuff in the containers) that would be enough incentive to play this game loop and in a later stage to go to the PvP areas and risk more for more reward.

 

Ok, so now some desicion makers at NQ might say, "we do not have the DEV resources to do all that". Well, let the community help you! There is an insane amount of creative talent out there. Make a community challenge out of it!

- Provide the basic mechanism to create an autonomous ship (like an AI core element that acts as a control unit)

- Provide the scripting API to control that AI core. It can be rather basic at the start, we are in space! We don't need navmeshes and expensive AI libraries and stuff like that!

- Organize it as a community challenge, hand out the AI cores (start with XS only, and limited number), let the community build and design, observe what works and what is too performance straining, what functions should be optimized into C++ routines, etc.

- Provide prices for successful designs or let the community decide.

- Finally proclaim, which NPCs shall be taken into the game, have them spawn.

- Rince repeat the whole thing with S, M, L, XL, maybe later with expanded AI.

 

If it is undesirable, e.g. in terms of griefing, to have a lot of autonomous ships in player hands, or too performance-intensive, have the AI cores removed from players completely (which would be a pity, really), or have them limited, by supply, on a per player/per org base, or disallow armed ships in player hands, or all of it together. Personally, in the long run I would probably be satisfied with having an autonomuous  taxi/ferry ship, that can fly on its own to my outposts, where I can un/load it via VR, to ease the resource gathering. I dont need a personal USV noob hunter craft that rampages through the inner zone and griefs people without me even witnessing it.

Though it would be cool to have a carrier ship that can spit out lots of combat drones.... yeah the possibilities are endless, at least in theory...

 

Long story short: this game has a lot of issues, but even more potential. It would be reassuring if NQ would demonstrate some long-term commitment. I don't see that at the moment not even ideas. Be honest to your community. We dont want this game to fail!

 

I for myself do not need a "Ready Player One" or "Metaverse" vision. This movie's story was about a dystopian, virtualized but totally disfunct and impoverished society that went astray big time. Who the hell wants that?

Not me for sure! I just want a decent space-themed MMO with a great degree of creative freedom that is FUN to play and enjoyable after a hard day of real-life work. Should be doable...

 

Regards, Kaine Vulpayne

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Poor Vulpayne - Do you believe in St.Claus? 😉 Sorry, I won't offend you. I am playing since before 0.23. I have read so many simular posting. Nothing has changed. DU has a little bit of masochistic.

Edited by Candyman
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21 hours ago, Candyman said:

Poor Vulpayne - Do you believe in St.Claus? 😉 Sorry, I won't offend you. I am playing since before 0.23. I have read so many simular posting. Nothing has changed. DU has a little bit of masochistic.

 

Hello Candyman,

well thank you for your compassionate pity, I guess?

Obviously you do not believe in St. Claus and you have seen the whole history of that game AND it sounds like you do not believe, anything will improve, ever.

 

Mind telling me, why your are still around? Just curious...

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Playing this game since first alpha is like being that jaded barman who watches all the fresh young ladies turn up at the bar giddy with hope of finding their “man”…

 

Five Jack Daniels and Rufie later and he knows exactly how their “romance” is going to end. 
 

So he sighs and just polishes another glass, trying to turn a blind eye to the emotional carnage and heartache.  

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On 11/19/2022 at 7:51 PM, Gunhand said:

It died sometime ago when Novaquark realised that under the budget they currently have that there was no way they could afford the server costs to make it work as intended. It just took some of us longer than it should to see it for what it is.

 

Fundamentally I think game suffered unrepairable damage not even with all this technical cut corners, cheaper solutions and even balance mistakes, but when NQ for some reason changed over-reaching concept of player-controlled-shaped universe with meaningful wars, politics and intrigues (something that makes EVE great and what people were exited here initially)... to very limited, overly safe voxel builders sandbox, that bears little exciting game loops beyond pure grinding-building for sake of building. AKA "Landmark in space".

 

So when "political/social" strata of players withered out (because no real "oxygen" to support) stage was took by builders. NQ "forced" them as hard as they can, by all these boring twitter posts and preferential spotlights, like look what this guy built or watch this boring stream of this boring guy visiting what 1st guy built...

 

But beyond lyrics critical part here, that builders are not demographicly enough to support such game. So we see it now.

 

https://steamdb.info/app/2000270/graphs/

 

 

 

  

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On 11/26/2022 at 1:16 PM, Vulpayne said:

Mind telling me, why your are still around? Just curious...

Sorry, I wasn't in the forum last days. OK, the answer : I like this game, i like the flying model ( I played EVE for over 15 years and missed the posibilitys to land etc), i like the creativety of the voxelwork, i like that you can build your own ships and so on. But the GUI/UI is crap, crap and another crap.

 

regards

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I won’t say I was a white knight, but I did try hard not say inflammatory things about the devs or the state of the game for a long time, thinking it counterproductive.

Recently I’ve realized it doesn’t matter, because they are steering this thing into a ditch no matter what we say, and I’ve turned sniping NQ whenever it suits.

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I think it's important to remember that the people making the game, the people actually working on the game, want to do a great job, and i'm sure they're trying to do a great job, and they're also at work, trying to make a living, and they truly don't deserve any form of abuse.  Ever.

 

BUT i think it's also important to make sure that upper management knows, when they make uninformed, poorly thought-out, profit driven decisions, they are in danger of failing to produce the product that we are all here to buy from them.

 

And if they want to produce that product, and they want us to buy it, they need to actually know what it is.  And care whether it's as good as it could be.

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Atmosph3rik said:

I think it's important to remember that the people making the game, the people actually working on the game, want to do a great job, and i'm sure they're trying to do a great job, and they're also at work, trying to make a living, and they truly don't deserve any form of abuse.  Ever.

 

Both of them!

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I keep hoping beyond hope that they pull this thing out of its death spiral.  Instead, performances seems to be degrading even as fewer players play.  My org mate has been suffering from desync issues (steps out of ship, next second ship is hundreds of meters above him and falling fast!), I've been living with 5-10 second container/industry open times.  My guess is they are shrinking server sizes to save money.

 

Alas, we are about as far as we can go without having to risk PVP space.  We have already lost a couple of nice ships there, and the risk/reward is just not worth it to us anymore.  Its not like we HAVE to play the game - we just don't feel like getting ganked anymore.  My org partner loves scanning, but even he is becoming intolerant of the low chance of success - he has done thousands of scans with little success just for T2s, and T3+ are suppose to be even harder - he is out of patience.

 

Me... I'm an industrialist - I love to build manufacturing plants.  I was fine calibrating, but we have shut down all mining sites that don't have at least a T2 one them - ore prices are just not worth it.  On the plus side, I'm not wasting 3 hours twice a week calibrating.  I also like old-style mining, but that is an asteroid only thing now, and anything worth mining is in PVP space.  If they would remove the "Discovered" stage, so once we found a Roid after hunting for a few hours we could actually mine it in peace - that would be fine.  But now we have to spend hours tracking down a rock, and have limited time before its discovered.  Lost a nice ship full of T2 and T3 ore on our last run, and have lost a lot of explorer ships in between.  Its just not worth it - we want to mine, not to be ganked.

 

The main intent over the years was to force us to become specialized.  Fine.  I want to specialize on being an industrialist - but there is no market support for products that cover the cost of ore and schematics.  "Grow our own" ore requires us to be miners... ok... that is just a supply chain issue... but to be successful, we now also have to be long range haulers (at least for the moment), with the most profit in PVP space, so now we need to be fighters as well.  So much for specialization.  Oh, yeah, we could run missions to fund ourselves, if the servers were not so slow that desync causes crashes (and don't even talk about having to file a ticket to get your ship back - we are paying monthly subscriptions and don't feel like waiting weeks for a response).

 

Bottom line:  After 5 years, its becoming less and less fun.  Almost everything they are doing is to save cost, and hurts the gaming part of the game.  Very very sad. 

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1 hour ago, Del said:

I agree with you about the state of the game and I am saddened by the lack of communication coming from NQ

 

Believe that leopard will never change it spots...  they have had 5 years of coaching to up their communication level and have ignored it all.

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On 12/5/2022 at 3:46 AM, Pleione said:

The main intent over the years was to force us to become specialized. 

 

Game simply lack content for actual specialization. Sure, there is 2-3% who can somewhow always can make themselves busy with (usually) metagame and creative pursuits, but its irrelevant in larger picture. Majority of (more casual) players just doing same thing as everyone without any interesting niche in gameword or long term rewarding interaction. So they voting with feet after initial novelty fades.

 

 

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Generally, in order to have specialisation, you need choices to have impacts beyond "you can't do [the other thing] yet." So specialising in one thing "should" make learning other things progressively more difficult. That way, once you go down one path, you've an incentive to go "all in" on that path. A well-designed system would make a "generalist" possible, but practically preclude them from being "the best" at very many, or any things at all.

 

Such a system would require much more interesting results from skills though, than the current simplistic approach allows.

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14 minutes ago, Kezzle said:

Generally, in order to have specialisation, you need choices to have impacts beyond "you can't do [the other thing] yet." So specialising in one thing "should" make learning other things progressively more difficult. That way, once you go down one path, you've an incentive to go "all in" on that path. A well-designed system would make a "generalist" possible, but practically preclude them from being "the best" at very many, or any things at all.

 

Such a system would require much more interesting results from skills though, than the current simplistic approach allows.

 

Oh boy, when I suggested this almost 2 years ago in a series of videos, and then again 1 year ago on one of my main videos, I was so attacked for suggesting this, although I tried to convince people how completely stupid the current skill system is ... ah, who cares, nothing matters anyway.

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2 hours ago, sHuRuLuNi said:

 

Oh boy, when I suggested this almost 2 years ago in a series of videos, and then again 1 year ago on one of my main videos, I was so attacked for suggesting this, although I tried to convince people how completely stupid the current skill system is ... ah, who cares, nothing matters anyway.

That's sad. The current system, like so many DU features is a hurriedly-slapped-together placeholder that wasn't sufficiently well thought-through (whose idea was it to have Talents that make tracking the progress of industrial processors unnecessarily intensive?) and actually provides pretty much only lip service to the "objective" of specialisation.

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