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How Rewards Kill Good Gameplay


nicopopolis
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When you play any online game these days, there isn't a question about if there will be a grind, it's only a question of how you are going to grind.  Things didn't used to be this way.  No, not in every game.  These days it seems like every game has to "reward" players for playing games.  Do you remember TF2 before all the alternative weapons came out?  No one complained about broken item X or worthless item Y.  Everything was balanced for a fair and fun PvP experience and people played for hundreds of hours with no reward for spending their evenings playing a game, and they enjoyed it.  But this game isn't a PvP game, it's largely based around PvE.

 

Let's talk about Left4Dead.  A first person shooter based around a squad of four survivors.  Everything in the game was completely geared towards working together.  They made it imperative that you helped each other if you wanted to make it to the end.  The game was scored based on how well you did and your reward for doing well was that the game got harder.  The difficulty set how likely it was that you would lose.  No reward other than the gameplay was available.  The game had 4 maps and zombie hordes with 3 special types and 2 boss types.  That was it.  The maps were exactly the same every time you played, equipment was generally in the same spot and only the position of enemies changed.  People still played this game for hundreds of hours without any goal or reward for playing.

 

Now I know this game is not Left4Dead.  But a lot of the same principals of gameplay can be applied to explain some standard problems.  In Left4Dead, if you lagged behind or rushed ahead, you were going to die.  It wasn't a question.  The game had cues to let you know when you could relax and search or when you had to hustle to the next waypoint.  The pacing was a very important part of the feel of the game, and teamwork required everyone to be going at the same pace.  Special items were limited and thus when to use them was always a relevant tactical decision.  What to take was also important and communicating with your teammates about who was taking what also was important.  4 people using shotguns caused problems against certain enemies (which there were 3 special types) while 4 people with bolt action rifles was also a problem.

 

There was a fair share of problems that anyone who ever played the game can relate to, like people rushing into the safehouse, using a medpack and then taking a second one.  Anyone who ever played L4D online knows what I'm talking about.  When you ran across people who were acting like that you either booted them from the party or left the game yourself.  At this point I should mention that the game was run on community owned servers, not on Valve's servers so booting was a privilege, not a right.  Banning was an option if they player became consistently problematic because you were banning him from YOUR server, not the game.  But playing with 3 lesser skilled players was never a "problem".  In fact, it became some of the best sessions, leading a group of survivors through unfamiliar territory and being the hero.  Since the game leveled out to the group's skill level, their poor performance didn't make the game less fun, it made it more fun!

 

To make a long story short, people played it because it was challenging and that made it fun.

 

So what exactly is it about Warframe that makes it "not fun"?  Well first and foremost is the elephant in the room, the fear of failure.  For most rewards in the game, they drop off of the boss or are given at the end of the mission.  The problem with that is if you fail to defeat the boss or complete the mission, you've wasted your time.  If players aren't up to the challenge they slow down the rate at which you get your rewards.  If you're farming a boss and someone wants to collect materials, they aren't moving at the same pace and both people become increasingly annoyed with each other and the game at the same time.  There's a plethora of worthless weapons that many players don't even want to use that they level for "mastery points" then throw away.  Then they proceed to grind for new equipment so they can repeat the process hall over again.

 

Players are spending hours leveling frames they don't like, using weapons they won't keep, repeating missions that they're sick of playing all because there's a reward for doing so.  They skip missions that they think are fun in favor of Mobile Defense because it gives the most XP.  Seriously, 25-30k vs the 5k you get for a raid or capture.  Fix that and you could have people doing the missions they want to be doing rather than the missions that reward them the fastest.

 

But from another perspective, grinding is necessary.  If people want to play the game, they need other people to play with.  This requires the designers to manufacture a reason to keep playing.  This can be done either with low drop rates, or requiring large quantities of collectibles.  Maybe throw in a community event that has to be collectively run 1000000 times to unlock the next zone.  Or how about penalizing the community if we don't collect 5000000 baubles before time runs out?  Regardless of how you pitch it, it's just another reason to grind.  Good games can keep you playing.  Great games keep you playing over and over for no reason.

 

I have to say I like this game.  It keeps me playing.  It keeps me coming back.  But I also keep quitting until the next update comes out.

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You do have valid points, but the fact remains, that Warframe is still in early beta (EDIT: I know it's not, but I mean that it's only been half a year, don't expect many reasons to keep coming back). There has been major changes since I joined, which was a month before U9. But you do have the point of where people will come back, but for yourself you'll keep quitting until the next update. That happened to me between U9 & U10. 

 

Although I don't have a particular suggestion on how to counter-act people going back & forth, it would be good to have more reasons to play Warframe. Running through the same ships to capture/assassinate etc, does get boring over time. At the moment, I'm just running void missions to grab low percentile parts for primed weapons; this is the only thing keeping me going.

Edited by EphemericGalaxy
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Agreed, OP. The more emphasis on progressing the game has, the less actual fun it is. I want to try different melee weapons out because I want to see their awesome attack chains, not because I'm looking for something to replace dual ether/orthos/whatever with. And I'd rather run a mission eight times and lose seven, than wait for an hour for enough good-enough people to be ready to run it once so I don't risk 'wasting my time.'

Edited by noneuklid
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You do have valid points, but the fact remains, that Warframe is still in early beta. There has been major changes since I joined, which was a month before U9. But you do have the point of where people will come back, but for yourself you'll keep quitting until the next update. That happened to me between U9 & U10. 

 

Although I don't have a particular suggestion on how to counter-act people going back & forth, it would be good to have more reasons to play Warframe. Running through the same ships to capture/assassinate etc, does get boring over time. At the moment, I'm just running void missions to grab low percentile parts for primed weapons; this is the only thing keeping me going.

Early Beta? Dude, it entered Open Beta right around Easter. It's due to be released in about a month or two.
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Early Beta? Dude, it entered Open Beta right around Easter. It's due to be released in about a month or two.

Well I mean for the time it has been available to the public, you wouldn't expect a wide variety of reasons to keep coming back. I should rephrase what I directly said.

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I like very much the points the op makes. I've been trying to somehow phrase them but never quite could.

 

As a rather new player, I have a very strong (and unpleasant) feeling that most of the community is playing in order to farm/rush. It makes me so sad. Not that farming exists, but that it's the rule rather than the exception. Add to that the VERY annoying fact that by "farming", in this game this means rushing through enemies or standing still in defence missions timing your '4' key at the right point. Weapon loadouts, mod builds, and to a lesser extent (but even then), the warframe you're using - all of these don't REALLY matter when you're "farming".

 

I feel so annoyed that I finally got Nyx and then I can't seem to enjoy her - not really - because in "farming" sessions, no one cares that I'm controlling the fusion MOA, everything is just gonna get skipped / wiped out in seconds anyway. My friend managed to build Banshee, no one cares where the enemies are or what their weak spot is, rush through or press '4' and all is done. Excalibur super jump, Loki's and Ash's Teleport - never really seen people using those strategically. Scouting, stealth, "holding the ground" strategies (eg  Volt's shield)... These are all factors I got so excited about when I started playing this game, and have become so disappointed that they aren't really valued.

 

In my opinion, giving a more fixed xp reward while making different kinds of mission more similar in length should help with that. Missions where strategic group work, stealth and/or scouting are relevant should be a priority in the future of this game development. A rebalancing of the powers - especially the 'elemental' area damage ones - should be seriously considered (not necessarily nerfing them, but creating situations or mechanisms through which they were not the absolute best solution). Awarding players who can intelligently use mobility and "strategic" powers should be a given.

 

But most of all, I agree with the op when he says the game should be played mostly for fun, and not for grinding. Grinding, imho should be a necessary mechanism in SOME points of the game, or as an alternative goal, but not what keeps 95% of people playing this game after the first month.

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When you play any online game these days, there isn't a question about if there will be a grind, it's only a question of how you are going to grind.  Things didn't used to be this way.  No, not in every game.  These days it seems like every game has to "reward" players for playing games.  Do you remember TF2 before all the alternative weapons came out?  No one complained about broken item X or worthless item Y.  Everything was balanced for a fair and fun PvP experience and people played for hundreds of hours with no reward for spending their evenings playing a game, and they enjoyed it.  But this game isn't a PvP game, it's largely based around PvE.

Umm... this game has already become increasingly more PvP in just the past couple months.  I blame the noobs that kept begging for it despite being told thousands of times that Warframe was a PvE focused game.

 

As for making the game fun without giving rewards out, I've got an idea for the clan system that could make it more fun and increase its perceived value.  Make a series of quests that a player has to complete in order to acquire the clan key blueprint.

 

Then, after they acquire it and their clan reaches the first member limit, they have to complete another series of quests to gain the ability to upgrade their clan to the next larger.  Repeat this process, but with quests that are all different storyline content in them.

 

This would also open up the possibilities for clans to complete quests to gain other abilities as well.

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Agreed, and gameplay with achievements that do not involve any sort of power progression is the key to the "Endgame" people have been calling for.

 

What this game really needs is the ability to achieve something without any gameplay reward there for us. There are a lot of ideas that I have bouncing around in my head like procedurally generated random events that alter the balance of power between factions, effectively randomly generating a continued war effort the community can contribute to. Maybe a story mode, even just multi-stage missions that can be used through the Dojo or keys discovered like the Derelict ships. Perhaps some of those missions would alter the fate of your clan and the reputation of your warriors while others focus on the individual Warframe pilot.

 

Still, the above paragraph is basically just rambling, point is we need rewards that aren't in the forms of gear. That is the key to a rewarding experience.

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I Tottaly agree that the grinding thing is unbalanced.

 

There should be a percentage of it in the game, but not as it is currently.

 

I am leveling warframes, getting new ones, hoping that someday I´ll play missions differently, but that day never comes. It´s been fun, and it will be for a while, but for how much time? I´m not sure.

 

As new player ( started playing in update 9) I still have a lot of fun things to do, but I really miss the strategy and coop part of the game. I miss having a team that stays inside my frost´s shield to kill all the mobs, for example, and apart rom my friend, I´ve never seen someone using Volt´s shield... Because no one uses it, or takes cover behind it...

 

I want to fight my way to a Rescue/Capture mission taking my time and enjoying every power of every warframe in my squad, knowing  that it will be fun AND give me some kind of reward for that.

 

I´m not sure that the rewards as they are should be cut off, but maybe there should be some kind of reward for this "fun" play instead of killing the sabe boss over and over again.

 

Not really sure how to fix that though.

 

Maybe there should be a better  way to prevent rushing through an entire stage... Setting good rewards in the usually overlooked areas and such...

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Maybe there should be a better  way to prevent rushing through an entire stage... Setting good rewards in the usually overlooked areas and such...

 

If that was done, rush would be a mandatory. Dont lose time killing go for the good rewards.

 

I am not going to say much, but the style of warframe is great. However the world is not. I've been an MMORPG player for a long LONG time and I wish there was a game just like warframe but MMORPG. Having to go from one place to the other, having to defend that point from the incoming enemies, having to survive lots of enemies that trapped you.

 

Warframe is so closed, when I started playing it felt like I was going wherever I wanted but It really is not. You just follow a way killing some mobs and getting a reward at the end. yay... the first month is great, something new... but after that time, I was playing just to get more and more weapons, warframes. 

 

I need something that really makes me wana play. Something that gets stuck in my head that tells me <<play that daium game>>. Now for me warframe is a casual game which I used to love.

 

Another thing that must be implemented in game is something hard, so hard that you have to be skilled to make it. And this is a hard thing to do... Let's talk about trinity, my main wf by the way. I press 4 and 2. Thats all I need to do to get through any mission with any mates. I love the energy system with no cooldown, but a high difficult mission that has to be done is not suitable with a invincible healer.

 

P.S. I won't read this text and correct it, maybe my structures "adobe" (bad joke) are not correct. I'm not english

 

P.S. International: Catalonia is an opressed nation.

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I Tottaly agree that the grinding thing is unbalanced.

 

There should be a percentage of it in the game, but not as it is currently.

 

I am leveling warframes, getting new ones, hoping that someday I´ll play missions differently, but that day never comes. It´s been fun, and it will be for a while, but for how much time? I´m not sure.

 

As new player ( started playing in update 9) I still have a lot of fun things to do, but I really miss the strategy and coop part of the game. I miss having a team that stays inside my frost´s shield to kill all the mobs, for example, and apart rom my friend, I´ve never seen someone using Volt´s shield... Because no one uses it, or takes cover behind it...

 

I want to fight my way to a Rescue/Capture mission taking my time and enjoying every power of every warframe in my squad, knowing  that it will be fun AND give me some kind of reward for that.

 

I´m not sure that the rewards as they are should be cut off, but maybe there should be some kind of reward for this "fun" play instead of killing the sabe boss over and over again.

 

Not really sure how to fix that though.

 

Maybe there should be a better  way to prevent rushing through an entire stage... Setting good rewards in the usually overlooked areas and such...

What's funny is how much stuff is in this game that tries so hard to prevent this behavior and it still happens.  Doors that take two people to open, the lockout panels enemies activate when you try to just run past them, cameras that activate lasers in the doorways.  They finally put a resource in that's only found in loot containers and lockers.  I don't think you were around for the seekers when they had the ball that would stun you until a teammate knocked it off of you.  People raged about those seekers.  I thought they were a good idea, but were poorly implemented.  I wouldn't mind if they brought them back and fixed them with a larger hit box, gave them a global cool down for all seekers and limited their use to when there are 3 or more players.

 

Partially my point about using Left 4 Dead as an example was purely because it didn't have a lot of content, but the content it had was great.  It had a limited amount of good content that would just keep you coming back.  People didn't take each game as something they wanted to get over as quickly as possible and multiple different play styles fit the game.  The Witch's mechanics would have been terribly boring if you didn't have players that were gung ho about shooting everything.  Spooking the Witch didn't mean instant death and while your team would be annoyed at the person who did it.  But sometime you'd have a team that would prep up to fight the witch rather than just skip it.  Why?  It's kind of fun to fight tough enemies sometimes and do things a little outside of how you're supposed to do it.  Sometimes people would want to do speed runs, just to see how fast they could clear the level.  Both were valid and fun ways to play the game

 

The difference in Warframe?  If half the team wants to speed run and half the team wants to fight enemies, then half the team just gets left behind, misses extract and loses credits.  They literally get punished for not rushing, even if the team was half and half on what they wanted to do.  In L4D that would just end up with everyone dying if the team tried to split like that.  But most the time, everyone follows pace with rushers.  They get trained early on by people taking level 30 gear to Mercury and joining games with players who JUST STARTED and just rush through blasting everything and speeding ahead with Rush mods that this is how you play this game.  It literally turns new players off of the game as they get PUNISHED for not being able to keep if with those players.

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I agree on alot that is said so far. The recent changes to trap loot containers is extremely confusing. Void first time round was fun, secret rooms were a new challenge. The more updates that come the more dumb this game becomes. There is little challenge in anything in the game aside from taking the endless defense to stupid levels.

 

Id like to see more traps, more egg on my face! This game has such potential to be a great title but the further it goes the more devolved it becomes. The timed secret rooms offer some challenge unless you have nova who can just undo all that effort. Maybe its time to create new and dynamic parkour secret room. Constantly shifting ceilings/walls to prevent skipping.

 

As far as the rushers go...

 

Times I stick with the team:

1. 1/4 Revives left on the frame.

2. I'm with clan mates and feel guilty if they die and im not there to revive.

 

Possible Fixs...

 

Teamplay: Get rid of Revives. I take some gratification picking up speed rushing nova's knowing full well its their own dam fault. But if noones there they just revive and carry on rushing.

Individual play: Individual Extraction (This came to mind because early extracts on survival pisses me off). I like playing as a team but sometimes it just feels a whole lot better if I just switch to invite only and go alone.

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