Battlestar Galactica Online - Developer Blog 6 - The Vision: Economy & Conflict
23 August 2013
It’s Tobias and Javery again.
There have been a lot of changes in the game as of late without clear communication about why these changes were happening. We have a long term vision for where the game is going to go, and a lot of these changes have been pushing in that direction.
We want to give you insights in the current process recent changes we’ve made and where we see the game going. This blog post will focus on a few core changes and why those changes came into place. We will also address some core concerns that have been voiced.
The things we will focus on in this blog post are the Daily Water Cap, the “new economy”, daily missions, and the RCS changes.
The core of Battlestar Galactica is constant conflict, regardless of whether it is physical combat, political infighting, or religious fervor. Conflict is at the core of Battlestar Galactica as a setting and theme.
We want those core conflicts present in Battlestar Galactica Online. The core concept of that conflict is present in BSGO with the conflict over resources, but unfortunately the current design of the system doesn’t produce the gameplay results we want.
In reality, not only do you fight the enemy faction for kills and resources, but you also fight each other; maybe not physically, socially at the very least. These economic mechanics are counter-productive to the cooperative nature of factional warfare and the social nature of a multi-player game. These mechanics have to change for the game to be as fun and fair as it can be.
Resource Income & the Daily Water Exchange CapEdit
We know this hasn’t been a well-received modification to the game, but we’ve made it for a few very good reasons.
When we made adjustments to the water distribution, we wanted to push everyone into conflict with one another, mainly because fighting one another is actually fun. Fighting over something is even more fun. In general it worked. We directed players into conflict zones rather than being spread throughout sectors where you rarely encountered one another. We also wanted to make the whole scanning process more positive as a whole. The rate of getting a resource hit on an asteroid was anticlimactic, and we wanted it to be a more positive experience. Second, we also wanted to shift conflict to planetoids because those are stationary objects that players can find. When you can find one another, you are more likely to fight and have fun, and the game more exciting. Planetoids are better flashpoints for conflict. Finally, the adjustments made it so factions were cooperating rather than fighting, and that is counter to the fundamentals of the setting and the core gameplay.
The one thing we couldn’t anticipate was the surge of water that appeared in the system. While we are sure you liked it, but it was completely unintentional. To give you an idea, water mining increased by an additional 150% above the previous level. It actually seemed to make the conflict between everyone worse and made it harder for new players to get access to water.
The water exchange cap is an artificial solution to limit the rate of gaining cubits. This serves two purposes. First, it encourages players to do something else other than farming once they hit their resource cap. They can build up more resources, but there’s only so much they get out of it per day. Second, since players are no longer constantly farming resources per day, they open up resources to other players.
This may seem odd when you think about it, but our long term goal is to equalize cubits access for all players. We want players to be able to compete with one another, and limiting the exchange rate allows other players to get access to resources. This change also factors into some of our other planned changes to our economic system.
The new water exchange cap actually puts levels back at the same rate as they were before based on metrics we have available. At the same time, we admit it isn’t perfect and we are already getting a revamp of the system in place. We recognize that you can’t log in everyday and we want to design a game that works for your schedule. So we are changing it from a daily maximum to a weekly maximum. The amount of water you can exchange will be adjusted to match that weekly exchange rate. It allows you to be more flexible in when you farm and how you go about it. You should see that update relatively quickly.
Daily Assignments & Dynamic Mission RewardsEditWhen the original game systems were developed, shooting asteroids with cannons was the core way in which you gained income. The basic concept of farming was pretty much accepted as a good way to create a solid free-to-play game. If you can’t afford or don’t want to pay, then you grind a bit and you can compete.
Unfortunately, there are some core problems with this concept. First, it isn’t really that fun. Second, it creates competition for advancement and resources within a faction and perpetually puts the weaker faction at a disadvantage as they can’t compete for resources. Lastly, and most importantly, no character in Battlestar Galactica ever shoots an asteroid with the cannons on their ship. It just doesn’t happen and it is fundamentally a setting breaker. One of the primary bits of feedback we get about the game is “it doesn’t feel like Battlestar Galactica”.
One of our major goals has been to figure out a way to reimagine mining as it exists in its current incarnation in the game. Asteroid farming is simply not fun, it gives an unfair advantage to players who have more time, and it breaks the setting. (Hint… that setting breaking thing is the most important).
With that in mind, we are focusing on daily activities and dynamic missions as the primary sources of income. We want to make daily assignments into activities that are fun to play – quality instead of quantity. There are a lot of redundant tasks in the daily missions. We will reduce the number of missions in order to focus activity in the game, and increase rewards gained from each mission. Second, with the introduction of dynamic missions you will have a host of new activities to accomplish. The “Freighter in Distress” mission is the first of many we have planned, and your daily missions will direct you to complete a number per day.
The dynamic missions are still in the infancy and we are working out the finer points. As Toaster mentioned in the last blog post, the dynamic missions haven’t revealed their final rewards yet. We are working to balance those rewards to make them enticing and interesting.
With that in mind, that’s where you come in. We need you to hammer on these dynamic missions. We need to see activity on them. We know the rewards are not the amazing at this point. Right now we just want to get them fun and the rewards will be dialed up as we move along. As we stated on release, the rewards are not final.
This combination of daily assignments and dynamic missions are intended to be the new focus of activity for players. Rather than shooting rocks in space you will be protecting disabled freighters, defending a mining ship, or any number of other activities that could actually happen in Battlestar Galactica.
Economy – The Long TermEdit
The economy is a sensitive topic for any game, especially a live game. Stable currencies allow proper rewards and pricing while inflation can harm the whole gaming experience. Believe it or not, interacting with an economy is actually supposed to be a fun experience. Right now our economy is a bit of a mixed bag in the “fun” department. Tylium and Titanium are next to worthless. There aren’t enough things to spend those resources on, and that’s why some players have enormous stocks. Combined with the focus on cubits, the game has a high “pay to win” mentality. That has to change.
The changes we made are some of the first steps into making a new economy that presents fun challenges, reinforces the Battlestar Galactica setting, and encourages team play and interaction.
As you have seen – the new dynamic missions entered the game as new, fun to play content which encourages huge fleet battles. Players are rewarded for participation in those activities. You see, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose those activities. It matters that you participate.
The current economic system is counter-productive to that concept. We want everyone to participate regardless of level, and the only way to do that is to reward participation. Your daily activity will become the core means by which you will gain resources, rather than spending your days shooting rocks. Gathering resources will be a goal rather than the direct gathering of currency.
Our long-term goal is to create a stable economy that is also able to keep value in the long run. Furthermore we want to improve the accessibility of the system; as new users enter the game and are “forced” to farm three different resources to maintain playing. That system is confusing and breaks the setting on a fundamental level.
These changes will take time and iteration to get to a final state. Something of this size can’t be done at once, and we are really excited about how the game is going to change. We want to make this game feel like an authentic Battlestar Galactica experience, and that’s what our goal has been all along.
Other Topics – RCS RebalancingEdit
There have been quite a few complaints about the recent nerfing of the RCS ducting. First, it addressed a core gameplay imbalance. The RCS Ductings were simply too powerful and it made a wide variety of other items completely useless. It’s about making the game better.
Regardless, we hope you are seeing how that change has dramatically improved them game. Unfortunately that change came right after an engine sale, and we’d like to clarify why. To put it simply, it was a mistake. We know you might not trust what we are writing, and we understand why.
We would like to share the background information on how this happened. Game update 16 was planned to be released on Wednesday, July 31st. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet this date for technical reasons. The patch just wasn’t ready for release and the release had to be postponed to Thursday, August 1st.
Additionally, the patch notes have not been completely localized into all languages on Wednesday. Since the changes were very big changes, we considered it would be just fair to release the patch notes translated into all languages simultaneously. That is the reason why the patch notes were published on Thursday.
Finally, the sale simply happened because no-one thought of cancelling it. We forgot about it completely, because we simply wanted to release on Wednesday while having the sale ready to be used after the release – not before.
No one ever wanted to paint the picture that we are doing such things on purpose. We’re gamers first, and we know how it feels. You are the reason why we are working hard on improving the game, adding new features, and making crucial, necessary changes to develop the game you deserve. We’re committed to making every aspect of the game a positive experience and we haven’t communicated with you effectively. We will communicate more effectively in the future. With your help, we are going to build a great game.