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The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

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Caduceus
Posts: 438

The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#1 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 2:39 pm

Hello all,


The devs of Return of Reckoning have never made it a secret that they wish to disincentivise solo and casual playerstyles.

Over the course of a year or so or more, I have seen this mindset negatively impact the game both by its direct consequences and unintended side-effects. It is specifically these side-effects that I wish to talk about in this thread.

What I will present are a couple of changes (or series of changes) that have impacted the game, RvR in particular, in what I assume are unintended ways.

The background from which I make these arguments is extensive play over the course of roughly two-and-a-half years, having rr80+ characters on both sides and having played most classes at cr40. I have been guild leader of the new-player-focused guild Odyssey for over a year.

I love this game, and I greatly appreciate the effort the devs have put, and are continuing to put into Return of Reckoning. I make this post because I care, and let nothing I state in this thread imply otherwise.

With that said, I state things plainly, in the way that I see them. I will not sugar coat things that I view as becoming increasingly problematic.



1. The Supply System


The Changes: the supply system has been changed in several ways. To keep it short, supplies have become worth less renown and more supplies are needed to level up keeps. These changes seem to have been targeted specifically at solo players running boxes in empty zones, to make it less lucrative for them and reducing the strategic impact they are capable of having.


The Oversight: what seemingly hasn't been taken into account, is that the prospect of lower rewards both in terms of renown and strategic impact did not just hit solo players. As it stands, operating as a small group in zones with low population is not profitable at all. Even with a 6-man running supplies unhindered it will take a very long time for them to make a strategic impact (in my opinion, true strategic impact starts at 3 stars). And what 6-man would sit around carrying boxes in an empty zone for an hour?

Populating zones starts with small numbers of players, including solo players, because warbands have little reason to populate them the majority of the time. Now even small groups of players have little to no incentive to spend time in quiet zones as well.

When players start to populate a zone in competition for scarce resources (BOs/supplies) content and combat automatically follow, however it needs the initial impulse that solo players and small groups used to provide. This interaction has been disrupted by the changes to the supply system.


The Consequences: these changes have had predictable results. Since solo players and small groups have little reason to populate low pop zones, they do not. All the combat and content that used follow these small presences has for the most part disappeared. The majority of the time only one zone has real activity while the others are completely empty and unleveled (or, ironically, populated by a solo box runner or two).

Small-scale PvP has suffered because of this. The campaign has lost strategic depth and may as well only feature a single active zone from now.

Taking away incentive to spread out over the active zones predictably caused people to concentrate on just one zone. The result is "zerging" with no real alternative most of the time. This has severely detracted from the sandbox RvR used to be in the past, where there was room for all kinds of players and playstyles.

A further result of this lack of alternatives is that players simply leave when their side starts to lose. Understandibly so! For them there is nothing to gain in the zone that's populated, nor is there in the low pop zones.



2. Increased Time-to-Kill:


The Changes: over time many changes have affected time-to-kill (TTK), including changes to the M2 Distracting Bellow, changes to morale damage, and processes like power creep and players getting a better understanding of the game.

TTK is now extremely high and nowhere is this better illustrated than Ranked 6v6, where both sides sometimes battle for 10 minutes in wait of a perfect storm that allows for a kill to take place. However, it is clearly visible in fights between warbands too. Both sides are often engaged in an endless circling around where players get resurrected faster than they are killed, and battles are decided by which side gets reinforcements faster.

It is my opinion that these changes have taken important elements of player skill out of the equation. The defensive safety net has grown so out of proportion that even the most aggregious of positional mistakes go unpunished, and the most skillful tactical surprises go unrewarded.

Further, it is my suspicion that this subject has been left unadressed because it protects organized groups from the unwashed masses of pugs and solo players from scoring upset victories from time to time.


The Oversight: most importantly, these changes (and a failure/unwillingness to address these issues) have disrupted the balance between offense and defense in practically all avenues of play. In solo and small-scale regen/high mitigation builds dominate, in 6v6 we have to wait 10 minutes for a single kill, and in organized warbands we are stuck in endless cycles of kill > ress > repeat.

What needs to be pointed out, is that the winners in such engagements often are decided simply by gear and setup, and not by the skill of the participating individuals. In fact, in many cases this is so absolute that whichever is the losing side literally has no chance of winning, not even by a stroke of tactical genius or timing, or by luring the enemy into a positional mistake, etc. It is often a matter of one side winning by default, or both sides being stuck in an endless cycle by default. The dominance of defense over offense leads to predictable fights and stalemates.


The Consequences: when both sides are constantly unable to gain a decisive advantage over each other, the go-to option becomes simply to bring more players to the field. In other words, this current state of affairs heavily promotes zerging, and counterplay to fight against greater numbers has all but been removed.

(Sidenote: the changes to morale-damage, in my opinion, were very hard to understand. The counterplay to morale bombing has always been there, and it involved actual positioning and skill: spreading out. Morale-bombing simply punished blobbing, as it should.)

As said, one consequence of these changes is zerging, but its negative impact is also felt where zerging is impossible: duels, 6v6, 24v24. These fights are becoming an uninteresting procession to a lot of people. A wait for the perfect storm to come about. Often they are either stalemates or foregone conclusions. Instances where both sides have a bid for victory are increasingly rare, even though most players enjoy these types of fights the most.

Further, it has disincentivized players from fighting from the underdog position, because victory cannot be attained through tactical means. In fact, in a lot of cases the underdog side cannot even fight for a SINGLE KILL. The result is that people do not find creative ways of achieving victory, if those are even available, and sooner switch sides or give up.



3. New Players


Lastly, I want to make a point about the effects of the current state of affairs on new players.

I think it is crucial to understand that every new player in RoR starts as a solo player, and without skills, without an in-game network and without a thorough understanding of what the mindset is that the devs expect of them.

These things take months to develop, and I fear Return of Reckoning is losing many new players in this period of development because of its unforgiving nature, but also its failure to communicate these things to new players. I have run a guild for new players for little over a year now, and I am all too familiar with the frustrations of new players and how many people quit because of it. After many months of telling players they need to group up to be successful and giving them tips on how to build their characters, I have realized that such improvements do not come as easy as the elitist crowd in RoR would have us believe.

It is not a matter of simply telling someone what they need to do. It is a process that can take many months, and if the game only provides punishment in this period players simply leave. Further, to pretend that new players can simply group up and all their troubles will be over is completely false. If they lack the gear or the knowledge of how to build and play their class, work as a team, etc. they will still get crushed. Again, these things take time to develop.

The attitude this game exudes towards solo players and casuals also impacts new players negatively and is often unconstructive and in my opinion detrimental to its long-term success.



Thanks for reading,

- Caduceus
Last edited by Caduceus on Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving." - Colonel Walter E. Kurtz

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punk7712
Posts: 21

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#2 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:07 pm

I think this is an excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to lay this all out. In another thread discussing PUG stomping in mid tier scenarios, I asked the question. Is there a place for casual play in RoR? Yes or no?

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tazdingo
Posts: 830

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#3 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:30 pm

bring back bo ticks

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zulnam
Posts: 594

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#4 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:05 pm

100 % agree.

I've been pro these changes in the past, but i can't say the effects that you describe aren't obvious; RoR should be somewhat casual accessible as well. Not Nerf Button levels, but still.
SW, Kotbs, IB, Slayer, Mara, SH, BG

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Przepraszam
Posts: 78

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#5 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:11 pm

Great post
Billpullman
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Topdude
Posts: 63

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#6 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:19 pm

@Caduceus, thank you for detailing many of the issues that have largely destroyed an environment to attract new players and why us vet pugs are loosing interest. I hope the Devs read and apply objective reasoning in an effort to make changes that allow us solos and newbies to play the game with some sense of enjoyment and contribution.

Elemint
Posts: 218

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#7 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:46 pm

Further, it is my suspicion that this subject has been left unadressed because it protects organized groups from the unwashed masses of pugs and solo players from scoring upset victories from time to time.
Couldn't be further from the truth, as organized groups are the ones crying the most about the batshit ttk. The masses of pugs now have a greater chance than getting literally GCD'd in conq times. Killing someone in 2 seconds still happens, but a lot less than what it used to be. Nobody but the 2 deftard tanks wants Distracting Bellow to be an M2, i would personally praise Jesus if it was gone tomorrow.

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tazdingo
Posts: 830

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#8 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:00 pm

Elemint wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:46 pm
Nobody but the 2 deftard tanks wants Distracting Bellow to be an M2

ahem, all true defchads run shield wall. but bellow is definitely dumb and way too strong on m2. raze is also too strong for m2. most tanks could have their unique 3s moved to 2 and raze/bellow on 3 (not bo obv)

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navis
Posts: 758

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#9 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:19 pm

While I think the BO system is the best it's ever been, I do agree there is a dead-zone when there are is a lack of players in those zones. Overall it functions well and performs almost all of the requirements except this (less than two groups in a zone)
It does kind of make sense, though, single players wouldn't be able to single-handedly be able to supply keep resources... I wouldn't want single players ranking keeps TBH.
Hopefully the devs will put all this feedback into their stew and try to come up with the best and broadest solutions as there have been quite a few posts on this general subject, and the devs have also hinted that RvR is to get a rework sometime in the future.

My main suggestion for the RvR zones is to rethink the concept of Keep stars and what benefits they give each realm. I find it's a little stagnant and boring right now and this is a prime area to look to adding more fun stuff into the mix. Possible make ranking progressively more difficult and holding off on some benefits such as stealth access to inner keep until Rank 3 (or higher), more dynamic respawn rules to account for under populated realms, healing/res NPC's etc..

And another suggestion for RvR I would like to see is to delete all the Keep kill quests (too many RvR quests as it is), and replace them with PQ-like events at the keeps or objectives themselves. That would be way more fun and would be more inclusive to general/casual population.
Last edited by navis on Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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ExcretusMaximus
Posts: 97

Re: The alienation of solo/pug/casual players and it's unintended side-effects

Post#10 » Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:24 pm

tazdingo wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:30 pm
bring back bo ticks

Did they once give ticks other than when captured? Because you get RP for captures again.
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