This week on Firefall Live, Phobos joined the team again to answer some questions and talk about the hot topics from the community. We talked to some callers from TeamSpeak before rounding off the show with our Do You Even Art Bro and Caption This segments.
Click here to watch the replay on Twitch.
- Yesterday we released a blog about some updates to our progression system that we're working on. These changes are at a very early stage and won't make it to the live server for months, but we wanted to start talking about it as early as we could in order to keep the community informed and begin gathering feedback. [If you missed this blog, you can give it a read here]. There are three main concerns that players have raised in response to the proposed changes which are totally addressable. One is that players like the visual style of their Accord frames and would like to keep it. That's totally reasonable and understandable, and we are doing many things in the future that we will talk about more later that will allow for much more customization of your visual style (so you won't be locked into a specific upgrade path that you can't really control). Another concern is what happens with people's current frames. Since these changes are so far away, we have a general plan for migration in our heads, but there aren't really definitive answers we can give yet. Please keep on asking these questions; give us specific examples of “I have this, this, and this, and I'm worried what will happen in my situation.” That will help us come up with all of the various edge cases and make sure that we have all of our bases covered when we're making the final migration plan. We'll be able to come up with a lot of those on our own, but players can always come up with crazier scenarios than we can. So please keep asking those questions. The other big one is that people are using the Accord frames as a sort of loadout system. They have their Accord frames set up with specific perks and specific equipment because they want that to be their mobility class, or whatever specific role they want it to fill. In other words they're basically using the system as a workaround because we don't have a loadout system. We don't want to make any promises yet, but we can say that we are working towards a loadout system. We don't think you should have to use a workaround to find a solution for this, so we're working on that, and we have a design for it, though no one has actually begun programming it yet so we don't want to promise it. But, since we're talking months out for these changes, it's very likely that by the time you see these changes, we'll also have a loadout system in the game which will allow you to do that same setup.
- Another concern that has been raised is “new players will hate only having access to one frame.” When it comes down to it, it's really impossible for any of us (players or developers), as veterans who are accustomed to the current system, to make blanket statements about what brand new players will or won't hate. Since launch we've done a ton of analysis on what's going on. We have a lot of data about new players coming into the game who have never heard of Firefall before. We've done a lot of market research testing, focus testing (in person and on-line), to try and get an idea of how players play the game, what they're doing, and why they drop off. We think everyone can agree that Firefall is pretty stable right now, we have a stable number of users that fluctuates up and down slightly, but we're not growing. Everyone in the community and everyone at Red 5 should be able to agree that we want the game to grow. So, it's really important for us to look at what is causing people to drop off. One of the things that we found is that most players (of course there are exceptions, but we're talking about the majority based on our research and our data) start to play a frame, and they stick to one single frame until about level 20 before they even start to recognize that they can switch frames. For the majority of players that do drop off before 20, if they want to try a second frame, their first reaction is to log out and create a new character. And right now, we don't support that at all. That's because they've been ingrained by years and years of MMOs that, “hey I want to try another class? Well then I need to create a new character.” They've been trained that way, and we didn't support that method. We've tried many different ways to train the battleframe station and say “hey, you don't need to create a new character, you can just go to the battleframe station!” Unfortunately, it just didn't sink in, and with new players who are coming blind into the game, they're not going to spend the time to figure that out. If they get an hour into the game and decide they don't like their frame, they log out and try to create a new character and see that they can't, their first reaction is to quit the game. So what we're trying to do is streamline that new user experience and give them more of what they expected, while still allowing for the really high customization that Firefall is known for. When you get high enough you can still get and switch between all of the frames, and there's no need to have a second character, and by that time you're familiar with the game and know how it works so you can get into the advanced thinking instead of being inundated with too much stuff at the beginning. And this is based purely on market research and focus testing; we have this data that we're trying to react to and trying to provide a solution for players for. So to say “new players will hate this,” well, not from our research. It may happen, absolutely, anything could happen. But, from our research and what we've seen, this actually will probably help the majority of new players. There will likely be a few players that get upset that they can't switch right away, and maybe we can find a solution for that as well, but for right now we're trying to address the problem that we do have: new players getting into the game, not understanding that they can switch frame, not understanding what the battleframe system is, and just being confused and inundated by too many choices at the beginning. We want to create a nice flow that they can get into and really level and progress and enjoy themselves.
- We know people have a lot of questions about advanced/end game progression, and we will be giving more information on those systems in the near future, but right now our biggest focus is on making the game grow. So we're doing a lot of work on the level 1-20 experience, and you're going to see a lot more information about the 1-20 experience soon, and we're going to need your help testing that 1-20 experience. It's going to go on PTS very soon; we plan to patch PTS again today, and you'll see some more pieces of that get added, and we also plan on patching it again next week, and you'll see even more. We're going to try and patch PTS more frequently to get more feedback and more adjustments, and more things happening. We released Amazon, we're working on Arena PvP to give our end-game players more things to do, so right now we're looping back around to really try and grow our new users, and really bring in new people. We have a lot of regions we'd like to expand into, but before we go into those regions, we need to make sure we have the highest quality new user experience we can. It's a big cost to expand into a new area, between servers, marketing, and all that, so before we do it we want to make sure that we have a good experience. Everybody will admit that our launch in North America and Europe was not the greatest launch in the world, we're more than willing to admit that, and we want to make improvements. And we're going to need the community's help to accomplish that. So that's why we're saying a couple of months. Things will go to PTS in pieces, but it will all go to live together. The goal is to release a complete system. Our community will agree that we have in the past released things and said “hey here's the bare minimum of the system, and we'll add more later,” and that gets old after a while.
- Another thing we want to address is that people have a tendency to freak out about changes, saying things like “you're a launched game, you're not allowed to change.” That's really not a good way to go; if you've got problems with a system, or problems with content, you have to change them, otherwise the game will never improve. We would much rather be changing systems that are bad or that could be better than just being like “well, nope, because we launched, we can't change anything, and we have to work on our next game.” Let's fix the game we have, and make sure it's the best thing possible. For example, most people will agree that our crafting system isn't very good right now. That should be every reason that we need to go back and say “well, how are we going to fix this?”
With the combat updates changing how some weapons function, is it possible that the old weapons will stay in as an alternative?
- To start, no. It's a change to the actual system, so the old weapon behaviors won't really exist anymore. However, that doesn't mean that the current functions can't come back in the future as alternatives. That's something that would be up to c0wb0y and the systems designers.
You guys are talking about this as being months and months away, and I think it's good that you're taking your time, but what are we going to be seeing in the near term?
- Well, that's the negative to this. Really what's going to happen is we're not going to be putting out major patches for a while. We'll still keep an eye out for issues and Hotfix them out, but no major changes or additions. That's one of the reasons we're being open and honest about what we're working on right now, because we're working so far in the future and we want to keep you guys aware of what's going on and keep you interested in PTS. These systems are so integrated, and they touch so many different pieces, there's really no way for us to work on them in an isolated environment and bring them in independently. They really have to all come in together or they don't go in. So you won't see it live for a while, but you will see it on PTS, and we'll be continuing to regularly update there. But we will continue to hand pick fixes and little changes to go to the live servers. It was a very tough choice to make, and we would love to be able to split the team and have half working on the live game and half working on this stuff, but unfortunately we really just don't have a big enough team to do that. A lot of companies will have a team working on an expansion pack while another team works on the live game, but we're not that big yet, so we still have to kind of focus on what we can do.
What does that mean for Live Events?
- We'll continue to do Live Events, and bonus weekends, and those kinds of things. It is definitely possible to turn on old events, though there are some things that the Live Team would like to fix and they're fairly busy right now.
I posted an idea about adding in an additional equipment spot to allow you to modify your melee weapon. Is there any chance of something like that getting added?
- Well, what you're describing is actually basically something we're already working on. We're adding two new slots. One of these is a tertiary weapon, which would replace melee, so you could add in a sin blade to have the sin blade attack, or a scan hammer to have a scan hammer attack, or even things like grenades so you could have an easy access grenade to throw. So in this tertiary slot you would have different options like what you were saying; you'd have a piece of equipment that you could slot in to provide different melee attacks as well as other options. The other slot is the Reactor, which will do different things and we'll talk about more later.
Any chance you guys will do another Chosen Offensive soon?
- We don't have one scheduled at the moment, but it's definitely possible.
I'm very mad at you guys! [regarding the progression changes]
- We know, and that's understandable. We're definitely reading and noting all of the concerns that are being raised, even if we don't necessarily have specific answers to address them all. That's part of the reason we're talking about this all now, because the earlier we talk about it and start getting feedback, the longer we have to address that feedback before the system goes live. It's absolutely a valid concern, and we'll have to test it out and see.
Is Overcharge functioning the way it's supposed to on PTS? I was under the impression that it would bypass the overheating mechanic completely.
- It is working as intended. It's not supposed to let you fire infinitely, but it does let you fire more before overheating (6 instead of 4, currently). It also still increases your rate of fire and gives you infinite ammo while it's active.
Why are these combat changes being made now, instead of before launch?
- Well, David Rogers didn't work here before launch. So that's really a big reason, we didn't have a Lead Combat Designer before launch, we had Systems Designers doing combat, which works but isn't ideal. David played a lot through launch and had 200 hours in the game before he ever got hired. So when he came in, he was like “hey, you're hiring me as Lead Combat Designer, here's what you need to change.” So we're making those changes. Something that some may remember is a while ago, we were doing combat passes on the frames one at a time, but due to shifting priorities we kind of stopped midway through, and then the Systems Designers were mostly trying to make it better at that point. With David we're getting a full holistic pass of everything to make everything better. It's more than just combat, because he's making changes to NPCs, how NPCs spawn, how agro works, and more. We had a lot pieces before, and we were always trying to improve individual pieces and make improvements where we could, but that sort of creates a hodge-podge of different systems. So really David came in and was like “the first thing I'm going to do is write down every single problem that exists with combat across the board.” Then he looked at it and said “well, here are all the problems, now let's create a comprehensive system that addresses all of these issues, and works as a cohesive system.” So he wrote it all in a design document, and we've been going from there. The idea is to create a cohesive and complete system, rather than piecemealing something together from past pieces.
When are we going to see TheMuffinMan [Lead PvP Designer] on Firefall Live?
- We were actually just talking about that inside of the Community Team. We want to wait until the things he's working on are a little further along so that we have stuff to show off and talk about when he's on, similar to what we did with David Rogers and the combat changes. Right now he's been tweaking Jetball a lot; rebuilding the map and using it as a test bed.
Do You Even Art Bro?
This week we wanted to show off the entries we have so far in our Facebook Banner contest. If you haven't entered yet, there's still time! Entries are being accepted until March 4th, and you can check out this thread for information on how to enter. Here are the entries we have so far:
All hail the mighty monolith!
It's Christmas when I say it's Christmas.
Hey look, it's Bludge's number one fan!
Can you feel the heat? It's like so unreal.
I have a jawbone for every light in Copacabana... When one goes out I jam in another.
Who turned on the daytime? Mah lights need more darkness.
There, now the fan will turn on every time I glide so it feels like I'm really there! WHEEEEEEEEEEE!
That's it for this week! Tune in again next Friday for another exciting episode of Firefall Live!
Firefall is the free-to-play sci-fi MMO shooter from Red 5 Studios. Play for FREE on Steam!
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