25 September 2019

Cube World Beta - The Biggest Issue Right Now

I've played the Cube World Alpha for multiple hours and had a lot of fun. With the beta release, I've already spent 30-ish hours. As such, I feel entitled to give my opinion and criticism on the game. Even though I already have like three topics/posts I could write about.

What Is Cube World Gonna Be All About

Screenshot of the Cube World
Pre-Beta Title Screen
You can't give good criticism if you don't know how to play the game. This means we need to figure out, get hinted at, or be told how to play the game. If you look at the game mechanics, there's a lot of items and unlocks that only count towards one region. Additionally, there are a few items that count more globally. These can be found in areas that can be considered as end-game within their region.

With this and the information gained from the game developers, it is clear. This is the goal: Climb up the gear ladder inside of a region and unlock all the unlockables. With the top gear, you collect the artifacts. Afterward, you move on to the next area and start anew. Rinse and repeat.

That's a Terrible System Who Would Come Up Wi-

This is in and of itself is not a terrible system. Look at roguelikes or idle games. These games have been using similar mechanics for nearly forever. If we take the Binding of Isaac as an example. If you die, you lose everything and have to start over. However, you will retain any unlocks you've made or coins you put into the bank. This gives the game a sense of progress and changes the experience each time you achieve something. 

Another example would be the famous Cookie Clicker. Here too you are encouraged to start the game over. But, compared to your first run, you will have it much easier and faster this time around. This allows you to get much further than before.

Now, when we get back to Cube World and look at the artifacts. They do two things. Firstly, they increase your level, which does nothing mechanically. It's basically the count of how many of them you have. Secondly, they'll give you a small stat bonus. This bonus is limited to traveling abilities.

The Vicious Cycle Of Demotivation

That's all nice and everything. To make the game fun, we need player motivation. Motivation in video games is too big of a topic. So, I won't go into detail on that. 

In the current state, I would say, players who seek exploration are satisfied. It's an endless world, and it's unlikely to find areas that are too similar.

People who want to play with friends or want a community should also be satisfied.  My experience in online mode is quite decent and fun. The only thing I could complain about is getting no loot if you died and couldn't get another hit on the enemy. Though the steam servers can't deal with too many people. Thus it would be nice to have the ability to host an own server that can deal with large scale multiplayer.

The third group of players is the issue here. There's a progression inside of a region but moving away from it resets the progress. Even worse, the artifacts only give a bonus to traveling abilities. You don't need a bonus to these if you stay in the area you have been in the whole time. This means there's no reason to get the artifacts. Everything falls apart, and this is the problem why a portion of people complain about the state of the game. This is also the reason those people prefer the alpha release.

The Solution

As big of an issue this seems to be. It's rather easy to be solved. All the game needs is a long-term progression. It's not even hard to implement this. Artifacts provide a bonus to traveling stats. If there would be additional artifacts, which provide a more meaningful approach to long-term progression (such as minor stat increases). It would give the third group of players the incentive to travel and gather the artifacts.

More Issues Targeting This Audience

A few more minor issues, which also target this third group, can be easily fixed as well. For example, completing a region gives no reward, and you don't know when you are finished with it. There's also no big reward for getting the lore to 100%. Also, since it's unknown how many key items the region contains, this can result in the player searching for hours until the motivation dies out.

This can be solved by giving a completion percentage of the region. Providing the player with a special message for completing it and potentially a worthy item. For example, one guaranteed equipment piece for their class, which works in other areas around the completed one.

The unlocks should always be visible but blacked out, so that you know which can be found in the area. This gives away a little bit about the region, but it helps those who are searching aimlessly for something, which doesn't exist. If the quest doesn't exist, it will be blamed on tough luck.

Alright, This Is Long Enough

Now, I have addressed the biggest problem. I still have two blog posts planned about Game Development Lifecycles and the special relationship between players and developers. The blog post turned out to be less of a criticism/review than I had planned. Well, I can analyze problems and try to solve them by giving suggestions using my experience. I'm not good at reviewing, lol.

02 September 2019

My Stance On The Current Guild Wars 2 Drama

As Guild Wars 2 takes off most of my blog posts and I currently have time on my hands and can't record anything, because it's 2am... I want to take my stance on the whole Guild Wars 2 Announcement Drama that has been going on.

The Issue People Have

Reading a lot of comments on the big announcement, there's one theme that shows throughout all of the complaints. There was too much hype, and x or y did not get announced. I can understand that people who play a specific game mode, such as PvP or WvW haven't seen much content in the last months to years. Overall it would seem that Living World is the focus of updates while add-ons provided real content. It's now been 7 years of Guild Wars 2 with two add-ons and four living world seasons. Asking around my friends, I also found out that any content which is not released by an expansion pack is not considered as such. Well then, what did the announcement do wrong?

What Was ArenaNets Big Announcement?

People joke about the announcement not being a big thing. It covered a lot of topics, so that is a step up from Blizzard about the Diablo franchise. Though having new tournament seasons and mentioning that they're working on the WvW update - first of all - may not necessarily be news and secondly may not feature something new. Build templates show the same issue. This has already been announced, the only difference is that it will come soon instead of the future. The rest of the announcement - aside from merchandise, which I'm not gonna talk about - focused on the upcoming Living Story Season 5. The main event of the event so to say. The story will continue with the Far Shiverpeaks, another area that has been in Guild Wars 1 and as such is appreciated. There will be new masteries, that are gonna work differently, all the previous masteries will make a return and raid-like content as a bridge. The idea behind naming it Saga is a new policy to the updates or a new monetization concept. There's also more detail that is not relevant to the Drama. Such as Charr's background, Norn background, focus on respective characters, Jormag of course, and Scar makes an appearance.

Get To The Point

I think that's enough information for me to take my stance. Actually, there's not that much to say. If you look at the PR stunt of calling the season a Saga and them giving it such a big name, while at the same time not announcing an add-on would make it seem that the Saga is the add-on. The reason the name change was done is either a) due to a new monetization system or b) because they're gonna split the expansion into smaller updates such as the Living Story season updates. Of course, this is positive thinking. As such, the only thing that can be done is to wait for the first updates to see what ArenaNet means when they talk Saga. Maybe it's not as bad as you think. Anyways overall the announcement covered all or most topics of interest but was too ambiguous.

Additionally, ArenaNet mentioned this in 2015, and I agree with it even in 2019. A game dies with its community. Guild Wars 2 has a community, thereby it's not dead. Q.E.D.

Well, afterall, this is just my opinion. I'm not a fortune teller. Oh, wait, technically... Let's see if I guessed right.

Overhyping is an issue, I've seen multiple times. Since it makes me worry about certain games (e.g., Hytale), I should do a post about it.
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I'm a B.Sc. Games Engineer and I created this blog to share my ideas, theorycrafting, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.