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Long-Term Design and Analysis in general


Scylax
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I booted up Warframe today to check for any news and was brought to tears as soon as I saw "The War Within" pop up. I immediately postponed everything I had scheduled for the day and hopped straight into the quest. It was absolutely amazing, so hats off to DE for yet another astounding addition to the story. Around three hours later I was brought to tears again, but this time they weren't tears of joy. I had finished the quest and was no longer able to play Warframe. I've played Warframe for 624 hours, and it remains one of the games I love the most, but for the past half-year, I haven't even touched it. Why is this? No matter how much I love Warframe, its core gameplay leaves nothing for me to play. This isn't meant as a rant, but a heartfelt plead for improvements to the game that will make it possible for me to return not just for a couple hours to play new quests, but permanently.

This has always been and continues to be the case: an update is released to change player behavior, we see a lot of unhappy faces, and then maybe the update is implemented in a different way. This phenomenon is why Warframe is in its current state -- issues with the core game arise, and a fix that sounds good on paper but hasn't been thoroughly analyzed is put out. Multiply that by 1000 and now we have something similar to spaghetti code for player engagement. Most recently this happened with The Vacuum Within where players were forcibly encouraged to use other Sentinels by being punished for using Carrier through decreased vacuum range. Why was it only found out players would be unhappy after this was released? This is the kind of thing that needs to be caught in the design phase for new features, which brings us to the conclusion of this plea.

DE, please improve your design phase by thinking of long-term effects and analyzing what player responses to your implementations will be. We can't satisfy everyone, but we should at least be able to catch silly design pitfalls before players have to deal with them. Ask yourselves: What problems is this feature meant to fix? Be specific -- "I know it in my head" isn't adequate. Do we really solve all issues we previously enumerated? If you're just rerouting the problem, try again. Are we punishing players? If so, don't. Why will players like this? Be specific. If you can't enumerate enough, improve your design. Why will players not like this? If the downsides are not tremendously outweighed by the benefits, you need to come up with a different game plan. Confronting these questions every time a feature is designed will yield invaluable results, and create an amazingly better Warframe.

 

Edited by Scylax
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And this is the kind of post you see when someone capable of writing a nice essay still doesn't know how game design works.

We as players shouldn't get everything we want. If you're tired of the gameplay, nothing will change that. We aren't game designers, you aren't a game designer (I'm guessing) and Warframe is in a good state. No one can think ahead like that, no game does. There aren't any pitfalls, people are just reading too much in to things and think they're smarter than DE. That's what's happening on the forums right now.

Edited by JSharpie
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I agree that DE should be more vocal about the purpose behind changes but when it comes to listening to the player base. There's really no winning.

Take the current forum debate for example.

One side complains they're too RNG and too OP. The other side is grateful that there's a long term mechanic to enjoy and understand the damage system enough to know the mods are actually not OP compared to other options.

When you have a game that can be played in many different ways, you're going to end up with many conflicting views and there's really nothing you can do about it. But don't worry.. it's a good thing in the end because it means the game is capable of appealing to many different play styles. Even if it must be a huge headache to work on at times.

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15 minutes ago, JSharpie said:

you aren't a game designer (I'm guessing)

Software Engineer, which has the same fundamentals. Discover the problem that needs to be solved (describe in full via numerous "requirements"), and design a solution that satisfies every requirement. I may not be a professional game designer, but these sort of issues can be and are solved through this process in professional development on a regular basis. 

 

15 minutes ago, JSharpie said:

No one can think ahead like that, no game does

No game developer can predict with 100% accuracy how their playerbase will react to a feature. Good development studios put enough study into updates that most of what they release is enjoyed by the playerbase. DE's update history of features is not like this.

Edited by Scylax
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9 minutes ago, Scylax said:

Software Engineer, which has the same fundamentals. Discover the problem that needs to be solved in full (describe in full via numerous "requirements"), and design a solution that satisfies every requirement. I may not be a professional game designer, but these sort of issues can be and are solved through this process in professional development on a regular basis. 

Problem is subjective, it isn't a bug you're talking about, it's gameplay. I'm a software engineer too, and I can tell you the two parts of the spectrum your'e talking about are far different from each other. You haven't even cited an issue, you just say they exist. That Warframe is failing from them but you don't even say what you're talking about.

11 minutes ago, Scylax said:

No game developer can predict with 100% accuracy how their playerbase will react to a feature. Good development studios put enough study into updates that most of what they release is enjoyed by the playerbase. DE's update history is not like this.

Name a studio that does that, and then name a studio as small as DE that does that, and then prove that DE hasn't grown since it's inception.

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17 hours ago, JSharpie said:

you don't even say what you're talking about.

Hypothetically let's say I list off some problems I have with Warframe. Someone comes and agrees that DE could spend some more time in design, but they don't agree that some of the problems I listed are bad. They post that they disagree and now discussion about the original issue starts to become hidden by nitpicking of what's a problem and what isn't -- the topic is derailed. I've listed problems I have with Warframe and suggestions for improvements in past topics, but this one is not the place for them.

 

17 hours ago, JSharpie said:

as small as DE that does that

You bring up a good point. Big names have lots of money to invest in assessment, but smaller studios don't have that sort of opportunity. Despite this though, even small studios benefit from this. A feature is released, it's found out that it needs to be redesigned, and then it's released again. Compare that to spending more time in the initial design so that the feature doesn't need to be redesigned and can be released as-is. The total time spent in design may be the same, but in the case of the former you're going through two implementation phases instead of one. Regardless of how much a company has to invest in this, they'll spend more by skimping on design.

Of course, this is only applicable if you don't already have it right. If you already have a good design, any further time spent designing is a waste of resources. Really you can't tell whether you need more time in design without the gift of hindsight. In a manner of speaking though, this can be anticipated. If a company sees all releases as successful, they wouldn't really benefit from more design time, but if they have a track record for needing to redesign features, in the long term spending more time in design will be less expensive than their current approach.

Edited by Scylax
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