Question for Gozer and the Design-minded: How does a PuG become a group?
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Join Date: Dec 2007
12-19-2010, 04:03 PM
[quote=Remianen;3234387Again Leviathan, who's gonna pay for it? Do you expect the playerbase as a whole to forgo any content that's broad in appeal, so they can use those resources to create your starter raid(s)? Remember, creating a raid isn't just a matter of design. You need coding and perhaps art (or people will whine about the raid looking like something else). So many of the departments you'd need to create new content that appeals to all players, would be tasked with helping to create this raid that appeals to....who, exactly?.[/QUOTE]
Hardly anyone is paying for the existing STFs or any new ones as-is. My basic analogy, keeping in mind this is a much more casual game:
Raids in Vanilla WoW were generally too hardcore for the majority of their playerbase, particularly the later ones.
Heroic dungeons in WoW, particularly WotLK, were generally very broad in appeal and led to players having an almost parallel progression path to raids, albeit a more time consuming one. (Unfortunately, the number of classes did play into this and if you were DPS with low utility for the kinds of tricks one of these demanded, you were out in the cold in TBC.)
Blizzard realized that they were hoarding the really great lore by having major storyline events in raids. So, after Illidan died in a raid few people played and they realized that less than 5% of players were at endgame (much less than 5% in some cases), they killed Kael'thas, a major character, in a fairly accessible 5 person dungeon. They also took their least played raid and retooled it as an introductory raid, to "pay for it", as you put it.
In WotLK, they were very conscious of the risk of content being hoarded by a small group of players (at least up until the end, where they saved to hardcore instincts and created content for less than 5% of players) and they peppered the whole expansion with the big villain. One in every ten quests featured the villain and casual players got to face him in a non-raid 5 person gimmick encounter.
I post this because there is a back and forth that dungeon designers go through in creating STF-style content... and STFs are really halfway between a really annoying Heroic Dungeon (the non-WotLK variety where you're forced to play a certain way and you can't outgear the encounter as a casual player) and a Raid. And for STO's playerbase, there is no hook into this gameplay style.
You have content that 5% of the playerbase will see at the end of the STFs. You have content that I'd wager less than 20% of players will complete just with Infected.
That's not too different from the cycle of a WoW expansion except that we have fewer players, overall, and no introduction to that style of gameplay. Even if less than 5% in WoW have downed the Lich King, a LOT of players at least set foot in Icecrown Citadel. And they were trained to by the whole expansion, by the nature of dungeons and raids in that game. And looking at their last expansion, I'd betcha half the serious players downed Naxx.
Here, it's just like Bambi vs. Godzilla. Players have no place where they can learn STFs by succeeding rather than learning by failing. As a result, all STF content development is wasted and no STF CAN "pay for itself" as you put it. Furthermore, there's no storyline incentive because you don't even know who Manus or the STF characters are unless you're an STF player, making them seem even more detached from the game.
I guarantee you if you do a weekly series with Rebecca Simmons as an ally as a prequel to Infected, that will tilt your numbers up just a bit in terms of people trying Infected. The storyside is one aspect.
But the main aspect, again, is that there is no place for teams to meet, say, "I like this style of gameplay. I can do this! I'm ready to try something harder!" Without affirmations, players give up.
I think this is a regular problem with STO. Leveling to Vice Admiral IS fast but most people I recruit (and going by the Captain's Database, most people in general), give up before hitting Commander because they aren't patted on the back enough fast enough with quick leveling in the early levels (which other games have). It doesn't matter that the later ranks fly by and most people at the cap seem to feel the game was "too short".
Most players get bored with the rate of leveling at the low levels. You could totally tweak that to make higher ranks last longer and lower ranks fly by. That might even mean lengthening the overall leveling process but those first 10-20 levels don't give a lot of people the affirmation needed to continue.
You HAVE TO flatter new players. Shower people new to a mechanic with affirmation, accomplishments that are easy as slicing through butter, basically throw them a parade just for paying a subscription fee and trying something out... And only once they like something to you slowly start ramping up the difficulty. You have to build up their appetite before you feed them challenge.
And you absolutely should have those challenges waiting but only at the end of a flattery-filled, self-esteem boosting appetizer course that actually builds a community rather than asking them to assemble themselves.