Retaining New Players With Game Play


#1

Did it really have a chance? What I’ve noticed when playing Unvanquished, is that new players usually come for three things: aliens, wallwalking and building. Do they get them? Let’s see:

  • Dretch floor headbite means that new players won’t even be able to play aliens properly unless they read a wiki or not join humans or quit because of having to play with next to no evos long enough to find it out on their own.

  • Without strafe-jumping marauders cannot escape from fights nearly as easily as e.g. dragoons. New players had: grangers which they would get banned for using, unusable dretches, too specialized basilisks, dragoons, and boring tyrants. So all and all, just 1 good alien.

  • Wallwalking is headache-inducing unless the walls are perfectly straight. Probably explains why box maps such as ATCS are so popular.

  • Building ineffectively gets you flamed on and banned, so building is not an option either.

Additionally, as the player base started to dwindle, Tremoulous got even more problems:

  • Bad 1vs1 gameplay hinders the growth of the player base even if there are servers with players (when they get full, the next server still has to start with few players).

  • Almost all players I’ve met in Unvanquished were either way below my skill level, who probably read about Unvanquished in an open-source magazine, or way above, probably the most dedicated players from the glory days of Tremoulous. This means that a new game has a good chance to be a gross mismatch.

So it’s no surprise that new players get nothing out of the game and rightfully quit.


Game design and theory - Introducting third class (team) inside Tremulous
#2

There were plenty of chances/opportunity for “darklegion”, “Mercenaries Guild”, and “Unvanquished developers” to recognize this laundry-list of problems™ and address them with play changes, which they obviously did not, made evident by examining the issues you mentioned.

For contrast and comparison, I’ll try to name something GrangerHub has done or plans to do:

Better indicators on HUD for successful hits - special indicator for headbite

Recent 1.3 Swirl changes have adjusted some marauder mechanics

This is somewhat alleviated by forcing v-sync by default, and using non-default cg_wwSmoothTime. Additionally it’s possible to improve camera behavior…

Building in Swirl is much more dynamic than 1.1, and 1.1 is much more rigid and strict in what’s allowable within a game.

I think you have that backwards… losing players is a systemic issue of these specific problems

Swirl fixes many things to allow games with 1-on-1 play, which is critical to encourage 2-on-1 play, and so on…

Games on Swirl can still be challenging between average players and very skilled 1.1 “Pros”. As bugs are fixed and when planned features are implemented, the game will be re-balanced (slightly) to put everyone on a level playing field- which should feel very intuitive for all, but will still be a “new game”.

This is why we are here, my dude. :granger:


#3

Not really, 1vs1 is rare if there are already many players, and games aren’t bad mismatches nearly as often if there are more than 2 players on each team and there’s less % of dedicated players (due to graphics being less badly out of date).

What these problems do is make it impossible to recover from loss of players without making the game less team-oriented, which in turn meets resistance from clan players… you get the picture.

Come to think of it… if people could actually walk on walls, they wouldn’t have nearly as much trouble with uneven surfaces as dretch players have in Tremulous, since people have 180 degree vision instead of 110 and can sense gravity…

Viech from Unvanquished proposed giving dretch some sort of an attitude indicator like in an airplane to replicate the sense of balance, and I have earlier proposed a fisheye lens to increase FOV potentially to crazy values like even 360 without much distortion to objects at the center of the screen.


#4

There might be a fundamental conflict in trying to make a game play best for both competitive experienced play, and for being most friendly to new players. I feel that in addition to swirl, there should be a game mode that has as its top priority in design to be friendly to and fun for new players, that in part serves as a gateway to the rest of Trem. Don’t get me wrong, I believe swirl will be a lot more intuitive and friendlier to new players compared to older Trem game play, and it has already gone a long way, but still it would have some fundamentals that might not be optimally friendly to new players, but would still provides competitive and strategic value.

Swirl can keep a more competitive focus, designed for experienced players looking for more control, required team cooperation, and intensity. It would be good for scrims/tournaments/etc, access restricted servers, and public servers with a karma system. Swirl when complete might be more intense than the older game plays, since we are eliminating camping factors.

While camping in trem is an annoying phenomenon, it has provided some fundamental benefit to Trem in a weird way. Being based on Quake III, Trem’s combat is very fast paced. If you look at the size and scale of most of Trem’s existing maps in comparison to the size of the players, you will notice that the maps are pretty huge in proportion, even when considering specific rooms/halls/areas, that is because it has to be large for the speed of the action. I haven’t played Quake III Arena proper yet, but from my experience on similar games (Xonotic, QuakeJS, Quake Champions), one of the fundamental differences I noticed different from Trem is that with everything that is going on there is very little opportunity to chat and socialize.

Camping slows down the game play, giving breathers, and an opportunity to strategize with teammates and socialize, which are aspects in Trem that many, including myself, highly value. However, camping is not a good way to achieve that, there are better intentional ways that wouldn’t hinder the flow of the game.

The suggested new game mode (Strawberry?) would have casual as its focus. It would be slower paced, work best on small maps, and building would be automatic. Such game play should be less straining, allow for more social interaction with a chill environment without needing camping to do so, have matches not easily ruined by a single player who doesn’t yet know what their doing or who has ill intentions, and should still be challenging with new tactics and strategy introduced. A slower pace game play would even take away from the edge that aimbots have. Additionally the game play should require minimal admin intervention, even a karma system (i.e. automatic administrative intervention) might not have to play a significant role for such a game play.

Really, even as an experienced player, I personally would find both a competitive game mode and a casual game mode fun, and you would probably see me as a regular on both depending on my mood.


#5

Even more problems:

  • Keyboard layout: you often need to use medkit in battle, but it’s on “M”, so you’ll either need to let go of the directional keys or the mouse to use it, the sprinting/wallwalking control is on X which is difficult to reach without hitting the spacebar in the process, needs to be reassigned to Shift or Alt.

  • You need to sell your weapon to even see what other options are available. Unvanquished added a circular menu, but it obviously limited what can be shown on one screen, and they don’t mark the tabs clearly, so many players seem to not buy armor because they don’t even know it’s there.

I’ve never seen camping as a problem, the problem is that the opposing team has no fun because if you just attack you’ll run out of credits, giving the enemy an advantage.

How would that even work? And wouldn’t it take a selling point away from Tremulous?


#6

Unvanquished had one, it was called the training server. The maps were infested with bots and the goal was to clear them out. Bots could even destroy your structures, but there were some they wouldn’t touch, so you couldn’t actually lose. Quite a silly gamemode, I know, but it helped a lot while it lasted!

And you could even play it alone! This property can be great for attracting players from less-represented timezones who wouldn’t otherwise join the current games.


#7

A conquer style automatic forward base system. Basically if your team takes control of an area, team buildables start spawning there (perhaps as zoned based premade layouts).

Unrestricted building placement has inherent problems on public servers. It is very easy for either a player inexperienced with building, or a griefer with ill intent to ruin a match for their team by improper building. Additionally if manual building is required, it can become a chore that takes away from other aspects of the game.

We can alleviate those problems a lot, but it would still always be there to some extent. But even with automatic building, players can still make use of deployables (temporary personal small buildables that can be bought/carried/dropped), there could also be ways to upgrade buildables, and perhaps some limited form of “support” building could be implemented without issues. Ther would still be a lot of strategy involved as well, in terms of taking control of various parts of the map.

I believe that would be the best approach for a player v player game mode that is focused on new player friendly casual play. The more competitive swirl game play would be available for manual building, and for public servers the karma system can restrict building for players that don’t have enough karma yet, to greatly minimize the amount of damage they could do.

Any kind of game play can have a training counterpart with bots, but still I believe there should be a casual game play designed for player v player as an option. With that said, it would be awesome to additionally have objective based coop game play (making use of bots and custom maps) available as an option.

1.1 had a Zombie mod for example, where players would generally only play on the non-zombie human team, and the opposing zombie team was generally all bots, while it had a lot of major fundamental differences from Trem, it was still a lot of fun to play, and you could play it coop with very few other players, or even like a single player.

At some point I would also like to see an actual single player mode for trem with levels and the whole nine yards. The new game engine @TheDushan has been working on has support for single player that it inherits from Wolf:ET.

With a good game mode system (combined with a good bot system), you should be able to even make custom game modes by swapping/adjusting features of the different exiting game modes, as well as easily add new classes/weapons/upgrades/buildables/deployables/etc. In addition to competitive game play, having casual, training, coop, single player, and custom game plays available to choose from, should be fun options for new and old players alike. Even legacy game play (old 1.1 vanilla and old gpp vanilla) would be available via the game mode system (although something tells me that on a fair playing field, the other game modes would be more attractive to new players than the legacy modes).

Tremulous can be a lot of different things (with modding over the years, it always has been), we don’t have to be locked into a single game play.


#8

Singleplayer campaign is broken in the WolfET and never existed there :slight_smile:


#9

I feel like I am not qualified enough for talking about all this and for this topic, so I will stay by the side and just watch :slight_smile:


#10

…because “Wolfenstein: ET” is the multiplayer standalone version of the single-player “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” (which also had multiplayer, but faded quickly one W:ET was released).


#11

Still no, WolfET was imagined as combination and merge of the RTCW SP and RTCW MP. You have at their changelog where they say that they complete remove single player campaign from the source code.

I-know-kung-fu <3

Wolfenstein : Enemy Territory never had single player campaign :slight_smile:


#12

To give an idea regarding the scale of maps compared to the scale of the players, below I have a screen shot of a human standing next to a soda machine on the map “nano” (among the relatively “smallest” tremulous maps available), a tyrant standing next to the same soda machine, and an irl picture of a soda machine in Singapore.

@romdos has previously suggested that the human model feels too small. But with that scale, the Tyrant is not very much lager than those kids in the bottom picture! The problem isn’t so much that the players are too small, but that the maps are scaled too huge, and they have to be with the current fast pace.

Another personal observation I would like to make when I have been playing Quake Champions, that game has pretty good graphics and a decent amount of eye candy, but when playing in the matches I hardly notice a difference in the quality of appearance compared to Xonotic or even QuakeJS, I believe that is because everything is moving so fast, you don’t get a chance to really take notice of the visual details. I think that having a slower pace available as a game play option would give more benefit to better graphics and eye candy.


#13

Unless if the soda machine are separated with particles and dropping animation targets, I can make it smaller to fit with human’s scale like this real picture. But still need to test it out if particles are working or not.


#14

That was just to give an idea as to how tremulous maps have a pretty large scale in relation to the playable models due to the fast pace of the game play. If nothing else changes in the map, then the soda machine would look small in relation to the rest of the map. If the maps is made smaller, and the pace of the game play remains the same, in when there is action the map would feel very cramp.

For a casual game play option, I think generally if all player speeds were 75% of their current speed, that would work well (further fine tuning of various values would have to be adjusted of course), With just that change alone, new (more compact) maps would have to be made (and/or existing maps adjusted) specifically for this new game play option.


#15

Never found any of this a problem.

Extendable, but don’t ruin it.

Sweet.

Never are.

Should have a cvar that allows jumping to be switched back to 1.1 style.

Swirl is completely different, very few 1.1 players even play Swirl.

Only problem I ever had out of it is that it sometimes detaches you if you aren’t looking at the surface the correct way.

Free credits/evos, Granger and Construction Kit are now useless.

Welcome to my world, I’m just a bystander anyways.


#16

It is true that for autobuilding in a possible casual game mode, construction kits and grangers would’t play the same kind of role as in other game plays. However, they could still have parts to play in other ways (one such example might be for upgrading buildables).

Tremulous has had full servers in the past. If we are successful in reviving the game, there will be full servers again. When planning and working towards growth, considerations need to be taken for how things will be during and after growth, not only in terms of the current state of the player base.


#17

Being “most friendly to new players” is not a good design goal, because once they stop being “new”, the play is no longer suitable for them.

Instead, having new features to on-board people will help them learn the game and give them a “fighting chance” against more experienced players.

A large part of Tremulous’ appeal comes from trying to overcome the challenges the player will face, the ‘sportsmanship’ of playing gg's against skilled opponents regardless of who wins, the fast paced action, and risk of failure if your team isn’t cooperating vs. reward when it is.

As discussed in other topics (TODO: insert links here): the availability of bots, a proper tutorial mode, and even a single player campaign (or some combination of all of the above) would help the player develop the skills needed to succeed.

There are other ways to accomplish this that could enhance the game-play instead of hindering it.

Again, this can be addressed in other ways. But we can explore that in a different topic…

Having the ability to win a game in short amount of time (if there is a vast skill difference between the teams) is critical to pacing and keeping the matches progressing. Anything else will needlessly fatigue players…

This is best if addressed within the mechanics of the game itself (with waypoints/squads/vsays etc), not chats.

"But that wasn’t REAL Socializing™ "

Socializing and community is great, so think of ways to improve direct messages (which are only as spammy as the participants of them want them to be), chat groups (which people can mute if needed), friends lists (and blocking ppl) and invite system (pickup game and also organized scrims and tournaments).

I think this is kind of off-topic here, let’s focus on improving the Tremulous we have now, not a concept for a new mode (here). “Casual games” have some certain implications that I don’t feel quite fit with the reflexive-twitch / team-ego shooter/combat nature of the game, but might fit with a different system for building, changes to the control and pace of the game… might look too different from “Tremulous” (if you do it RIGHT!). Again, this needs its own topic.

Options are good, but having too many options can just be confusing. I think we should stay fully focused on swirl improvements here, because otherwise what-are-we-even-doing-mang


#18

You and me guys have really different approach to this all :slight_smile:
I will try to explain in the morning (here is 02:00 (I am GMT+1 timezone)


#19

I know that is an appealing aspect to a lot of players, but really that isn’t high up on the aspects of Tremulous that attracts me personally. Tremulous has attracted a lot of different people with different tastes over the years for different reasons, especially with the variety of mods that have been available. Some aspects resonated differently with different players.

For me, the aspects of Trem that resonate the most is socializing, team problem solving, strategizing, and immersive scifi theme. Also the asymmetric nature of the teams is interesting, as well as the ability to manipulate the environment. In my opinion, rather than trying to have a single game play that would be every potential trem player’s favorite, we can have multiple game plays that serve different purposes.

Then they can move onto another game mode option. Although I think the proposed casual game play would be fun for experienced players too , and would be ideal for chilling with friends. Having a game play where new and old players alike can chill and socialize together would likely encourage the new players to stick around longer and become regular members of the community, and explore what else the game might have to offer.

Yes, challenge is a good an important aspect of the game, but it is important to be challenging without being punishing, there is a difference (as was discussed in this topic: An educational video). Punishing aspects of the game have been a major issue for a long long long time, and sure there are people who endure that to make past the wall and start to become a non-newby (perhaps we might be considered among them), but that punishment likely filtered out a lot of people who could have otherwise become valued regular members of the community. Sure the game should be fun even when losing a match, but a lot of punishment can take away from that fun, even when winning.

A couple of general punishing aspects:

  • A build system that is so sensitive that an inexperienced builder can very quickly unintentionally ruin a match for their team, and be blamed by a lot of other players for it.

  • Being consistently steamrolled (not just lose) by experienced players (and/or by aimbots).

  • Griefers ruining matches, and/or cheaters gaining a huge edge.

In a more competitive team sensitive game play, if mainly experienced well intending players are involved, and new players/griefers are taken out of the equation, that can be a very fun experience for those involved.

With a slower pace, players can play longer without being fatigued. Whether they are playing some matches that might last longer, and/or playing a lot of short matches.


#20

What does this mean, exactly? Players use real-time mouse and keyboard input, therefor: use twitch reflex in response to in-game action.