Battlestar Galactica Online - Developer Blog 5 - Dynamic Missions
15 August 2013
I am BP|Toaster, one of the game designers on the development team of Battlestar Galactica Online. In the last months I have been working together with some of my fellow team mates to create an exciting new feature – Dynamic Missions. In the following paragraphs I want to give you a little bit more insight on how this feature works and what our intentions and plans for the future are.If you think about the traditional concept of quests or missions it works like this: the player visits a friendly NPC who gives him a task, moves out into the game world to accomplish it and travels back to the NPC to receive a reward. While this makes sense in many cases, it also has some downsides we wanted to get rid of when implementing a new type of content into the game.
The first thing we changed is how you acquire a Dynamic Mission. Instead of having to actively sign up for it at a certain NPC, you just have to be in its vicinity to participate. If there is a Dynamic Mission taking place in your current sector, you will get notified by our new mission tracker. It gives you a brief overview of what has happened before the mission starts, and shows you the progress of the mission while it is active. You also do not have to participate in the mission from its start – it’s perfectly fine to join later on, as long as you do something useful you should get rewarded for it when the mission ends.
Battlestar Galactica Online is a game with a strong focus on PvP, so Dynamic Missions will be almost always double-sided, pitching the two factions against each other by giving them opposing goals.
However, Battlestar Galactica Online is also a MMO with an open game world, so we cannot ensure that there are always other players around for you to blow up (and get blown up by). Therefore most missions will spawn NPCs to aid you or provide you with some opposition. Which NPCs are spawned is based on the participating players ship tiers (strike, escort, line, capital), while the number of NPCs is determined by the difference of participating players of each faction. The bigger the difference, the more NPCs will be spawned to help the underdog faction – until a certain limit. While we want missions with very few participating players feel balanced, we do not want to diminish your efforts of outsmarting the other faction and coordinating a big group of people.
In addition to NPCs spawns, we also have other means of balancing. In our first mission, the objectives hit points will be scaled based on the number of attackers as well as their ship tiers to make sure that the mission is always challenging, regardless of how many players participate.
While taking part in a Dynamic Mission your personal contribution to accomplish its goals will be tracked. In addition you will also gain contribution for actions that work towards these goals, for example killing enemy NPCs and players in the vicinity of the mission. Depending on the type of the mission the tracked actions may vary, and we are still in the process of tweaking existing and adding new ways to earn contribution, as we want to encourage team play and support a variety of different play styles.
When a mission has ended you will then be graded based on your contribution. You will get a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum grade, the latter only being available for the winning faction. Apart from this bonus for the winning faction, the actual outcome of the mission does not have a direct influence on your grade – if you performed well, you should still see a gold medal at the end of a failed mission.
Each grade contains a fixed set of rewards that is communicated to you by the same HUD element as the missions themselves. This is also the case if you are not in the mission’s vicinity when it ends, so don’t be afraid of dying! Currently you won’t be able to see your reward while on a loading screen (it still will be added to your account though), but this is something we want to improve in the future.
The actual rewards you will get are currently quite low. This is intentional as the Dynamic Missions are a very complex system and we want to make sure everything works as expected before giving out rewards we think are appropriate for your efforts. Stay tuned for updates that will add both personal as well as faction rewards for taking part in and completing missions successfully.
The mission we added with game update #17 is only our very first Dynamic Mission, and we therefore kept it deliberately simple, making it easier to track issues and iron out the kinks. The system we built is very flexible end extendable though, allowing us to create more complex and many different types of missions, as well as whole branching mission chains that tell little stories and take time and effort to complete. While we add more and more missions to the game, sectors will finally become the epic and dynamic battlefields you see in the Battlestar Galactica series and other science fiction space operas, having several missions going off at the same time after being triggered by timers, other mission’s results or you, the players. We want to create emergent team play, drive conflict between factions and deliver content that everybody wants to play because it is fun and rewarding.
There is still much to do to achieve those goals with the quality we have in mind, and we now need your help to find out how all the ideas we had and educated guesses we made while developing this feature will hold up in a live environment. I am eager to read your feedback, ideas and thoughts and will be constantly monitoring the discussion boards in the upcoming weeks, so we together can shape the future content of Battlestar Galactica Online.