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Evolution of the Game
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wannabe121
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:29 am    Post subject: Evolution of the Game Reply with quote

In the beginning, this game was called TinyWarz. It was a silly little name for a silly little game, a bit like your old tabletop games with a new lease on life through the power of the Internet brought to you by America Online. (Yes, DropShock has been around for a while, hasn't it?) The name made a lot of sense: instead of the hundreds of troops you might have to micromanage in a traditional strategy game, you had 50 units at max and a minute to command them all. An entire minute to command an entire miniature army across an "entire" planet, spread for your convenience out on a 2D map. A massive meka and tiny tank were all commanded by what was commonly referenced to as a two-man crew: one steering, one shooting, taking on names you might find in any number of war re-enactment movies... if you really looked for them. You had gatling guns, shield generators, patchwork armor; all sorts of modifications you could use to augment your units if they had at least one mod slot. No variants. No crazy activations, percentile-based damage reductions... a simple enough game. As if someone took years of science fiction errata, concepts, and re-invented them to make sense without years of history and backstory. It was a miniature scale war--Meka Men, Bartertown, PGF, Affliction, and a number of factions with goals ranging from game domination to helping new players grasp game concepts all fighting one another. It was TinyWarz.

Yet, somewhere along the line the dream changed. TinyWarz became TerraDominus, a name that didn't make as much sense since you never truly kept the land you dominated for more than a cycle. By this point we saw the advent of Commander Mekas, the powerful "come and get me!" units usable only by your commander in earnest, or a basic version by any crew with a certain degree of leadership (and luck). Battle Tactics has come out as well, and while it had its fair share of growing pains, it was generally accepted as a good update. Unlike Shadow Wars, which introduced the
Frizz wrote:
red-headed stepchild
known as Stealth to the game. TinyBucks became TerraBucks, the premium currency we still use today. Yet, TerraDominus was in itself a painful, growing phase to where we currently call home:

DropShock. A name which I can only assume came to mean a feeling of awe when anyone deploys. Combat Drop, the key expansion, ultimately led to the introduction of Elite units, which function exactly as Advanced units except with higher CE values. Intermediate units received a number of activated abilities to bring them on par with advanced units, if only for a short time. Commander Specialization further complicated issues, showing how some units become near invulnerable to everything save a rare "Achilles' Heel" scenario. I don't feel I need to elaborate further.

So, as a longtime player simply sharing my observations, the problems DropShock faces now are many faceted. There are issues with the game itself that we have grown to accept as veterans of the system, something which gives us a startling disconnect in trying to pinpoint reasons for new players being disinterested. We have the issue of the complexity of the game itself, which gives players who understand the system a monumental, almost insurmountable advantage over the casual player. The number of nuances and rules kept under the hood disinterest new players and make an unenjoyable experience, be it versus the AI (who are part of the system) or against other players (most likely those with multiple years under their belt and at lest a basic knowledge of how to excel in combat). We also have the resource advantage that veteran players have over new players, one which has helped newbies succeed but has also caused them to turn away from the game at least temporarily. There is also the occasional case where a player just begins hoarding upon the generosity of veterans for their own profit. This may not hurt the veteran (resource advantages, be it actual resources or investments such as units or crews are still advantages), but such an attitude is sure to turn the player away when he doesn't get what he wants.

I'm not saying we need to put everyone back on the same, even playing field. I would simply like to see what would happen if we made the game more accessible: community, mechanically, however you see fit. Otherwise, I'm afraid we will never have another name change, except for "Page cannot be found".
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Dogg1000 wrote:
olla wrote:
... Much better than nukes, that's too North Korean IMHO.
If these nukes are north korean, implement them anyway. They wont get 3 squares before tripping on a rock and turning into salvage.
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Frageran
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's two major problems with the game, as you said:

1) Too complex. Just look at to-hit! I feel like only a handful of players really knows how it works. A big problem that stems from this is a rock-paper-scissors situation (You said Achilles Heel, pretty much the same). Oh someone dropped Stealth and I don't have revealers? UD. I dropped missiles and someone has MDII? UD. I dropped a small force and someone dropped an SJM? UD. Don't have II'd army units? Don't drop. Which leads us to the next point...

2) It's too expensive to drop. To be able to compete with the biggest players, you basically need the best units with the best mods and have them double integrated. Oops, you just lost your army in your first fight because you don't have experience? Good luck building it up again. New players (or even casual players) are going up against Vets with 7 years of experience and amassed resources. It's like cavemen versus storm troopers. Some have managed to do it, but I think it's few and far between.

Another major problem unrelated to the two above, just equally important; It just takes too much time to play.
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tater
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thera also the fact that deploying. Isn't actually that fun most of the time.
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LordRex
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deploying was fun back in the days of no stealth and 9 (or 11) speed Wolverines. And then Wolvies were nerfed. And then speed was nerfed. And then mods had the CE penalty.

...and then Stealth happened and everyone noped out of there
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Gear
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wannabe121 wrote:
There are issues with the game itself that we have grown to accept as veterans of the system, something which gives us a startling disconnect in trying to pinpoint reasons for new players being disinterested.


Give this man a gold star!

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x34ds
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't play anymore just because of the prohibitive time requirements. Like, in order to be competitive (as Frag said) as a player who's never been rich, I essentially need to have a full army of II'd units. Then I need the command to actually drop that army, then, if I lose it, I'm screwed, because that's a massive investment I just lost in like an hour.

There's just too much money in DS right now, and it's too concentrated.

Also, I remember being a new player in Contra, back in the days of ER dominance. PGF was the only power even close to ER, but they couldn't really fight ER head on. Anyway, some of the most fun I've had in this game was dropping with ~15 turns left and stealing relics from under their noses. I also remember learning the art of dragging shak from GRFC1, the indisputable master of Aldus, and I remember learning how to defend a base by being the only person online when our node was attacked, and almost being overrun before Slayer turned up out of nowhere with a full army and saved our node.

Why do I mention this? I dunno, maybe it's just reminiscing. But this is the last time I remember being excited to drop. I used to come home and load DS up right away, and immerse myself in this world of faction politics, combat, and community.

The playing field, as it stands, is so uneven that I don't know where to start when I come back to the game.
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xyzc2
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can we all just go on a giant recruitment / advertising raid?
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wannabe121
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xyzc2 wrote:
Can we all just go on a giant recruitment / advertising raid?


Advertise Drop-Shock all you want. With the game as it is, I don't think we'll get many actual players. DS is more or less built to cater to a specific type of player that has become less and less common: the hardcore, near fanatic that is willing to devote themselves to learning every rule and bylaw in order to give themselves the advantage. They spend days and weeks bettering their storage, learning tactics, and hoarding resources. And once they believe themselves unassailable, they sit and wait for the next upstart, to elevate or crush as they see fit.

There is little, if any room in Drop-Shock for the largest player base: the casual gamer. You make the game more accessible and easier to learn, and you'll see an increase in activity and micro-transactions. It's simple economics.
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Dogg1000 wrote:
olla wrote:
... Much better than nukes, that's too North Korean IMHO.
If these nukes are north korean, implement them anyway. They wont get 3 squares before tripping on a rock and turning into salvage.
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xyzc2
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well both would help Razz
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Germán
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

there are lots of problems:
- only worth to drop best army units, other are just useless
- you can not get any benefit from anything unless you have tons of time
( getting a relic, getting a beacon, getting nodes)
- no matter how long you been a builder, there are week old players who can build with the same skills and probabilities.
- do not integrate any unit, you probably are wasting tears, cause you dont know how they are gonna change.

There are lots more of problems, but i think those resume the most of them, besides, they probably have the same common issue... wich is the decitions that were made to adapt the game to new players.
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vidar
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think we can nuke all commander abilities by simply giving every one a free respec, as you get back all you invested in getting them.

i think we could freeze all but the first set, and evaluate strux one by one, as long as we ether suitably compensate players for construx that get deleted from the game or just come up with fun ways to destroy them over time.

i guess what i think is that the council needs to set the game back to the start, then build out to where we are, THEN look to new ideas. i.e. keep what makes this game not every other game.

i also think i have a good idea how to use unknown to inspire creativity, but hey.....
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ivellios
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

x34ds wrote:
I don't play anymore just because of the prohibitive time requirements. Like, in order to be competitive (as Frag said) as a player who's never been rich, I essentially need to have a full army of II'd units. Then I need the command to actually drop that army, then, if I lose it, I'm screwed, because that's a massive investment I just lost in like an hour....
(paraphrased due to length,
Just before those days were the ones which I truly enjoyed, when there were 3 major factions and ER was just coming into its power, having army fights or massed skirmishes with sometimes 3 or more factions involved was great fun.
The only problem with back then though was it was just after it became possible to drop unlimited units so any attacks we made on PGF either had to be fast or not at all, I would be halfway through attacking a base and suddenly have 100 meks drop on my army of 20 forcing me to evac or lose everything. Although even with evacing that was still sort of a win for me as they would be spending several thousand command and get nothing in return
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wannabe121
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to point out that a year or two ago, a group of gamers from Harbingers of Chaos (Mortum Phalanx was the faction they set up here) actually gave Drop-Shock a trial run. These guys had played the spiritual predecessor of TinyWarz, known as Neveron. Believe me or not, when I joined TinyWarz (early BT era), it was still easier to pick up and play than Neveron. With all of our updates, modifications, and engine tuning, I'm confident the tables have somehow turned.

What I'd be most interested in hearing is what DarkLeth learned from his new player surveys, especially any complaints or questions regarding the game mechanics. It'd be a good starting point to map out which parts of the system we need to review, be that through modification of code or simply making the functions visible. Likewise, I was very surprised to see that many of the new players that we've come across since the game went OpenSource actively looked for the DropShock/TinyWarz Wiki. To my knowledge, Trerro was leading an overhaul project, but it was never completed--if someone could find out where they left off (a to-do list would be even better) then we can get one step closer to making this game great for a new generation of users.
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Dogg1000 wrote:
olla wrote:
... Much better than nukes, that's too North Korean IMHO.
If these nukes are north korean, implement them anyway. They wont get 3 squares before tripping on a rock and turning into salvage.
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danielsan
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

narf,
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Last edited by danielsan on Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:24 am; edited 2 times in total
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danielsan
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the most hard hit things at the moment for new players:
- It takes an absurd amount of time to gain command for:
@ building units
@ deploying
@ levelling

You have to wait for up to an hour before a planet is in deploy mode (e.g. cycling over). Each turn takes a full minute. Pointless if you have just one puma. It makes for a very tedious wait.

On top of that, its not really clear how to pick which skill unless you look at everything.

Here's a few simple suggestions:
@ Lower turn duration on Taris, Rionna, Zedus and Aldus where
deployment of units is limited to 30 seconds.
@ Change the commands in the following manner: Someone picks
archetype Army of One, Army Commander or Task Force first, and then
gets a tree of the other skills. Possibly limit the impact of commands a
little to even the battlefield or give each class a relevant subset.
=> Tie this into making the account and base the start units of their
choice.

@ Lower the deployment and command cost for deployment and buildings.
This might only have to be done for the simples/intermediates. So
newer players can catch up levelwise.
@ With the current faction storages we can probably hand all the novices new material and a spankin new army. But seeing how it takes up to 6 months to get the resources on your own. By that time people generally stop playing or get it donated. This might be seen as detrimental, but not really an issue at current.
Still, it might be worth considering to change the way command is used to build stuff. I understand the model is based on trying to buy command for RL money. But maybe this isn't the best model in the long run for earnings.

Maybe it's better to keep working on expansions and getting people payed. Or have faction planet drops cost some TB.
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