Not really a Q&A, to be honest, but the dev Vallter‘s thoughts on the game as it stands now and how it could improve in the future. It’s a long, long read, but it’s interesting if you’re looking for insight into how the game might develop over the coming months.
They were a lot of complaints about the poor matchmaker. Especially at higher tiers. There were dozens of such complaints on the forums. In patch 0.5.8, we finished rewriting the matchmaker from scratch, which helped solve some of the issues associated with it, namely:
- top ships and pre-top BB’s not being mirrored;
- classes being somewhat unbalanced between teams (6 DD’s in one team against 2 in the other).
In patch 0.5.9, we solved the nation balance problem and the balance of top CV’s (unfortunately, we only solved it partially and will soon fix it). We also reduced the MM spread of low-tier ships, which is now set to +1.
What will still be done in the near future:
- we will think about further improving balance between nations and limiting the differences in classes between both teams;
- we will solve the problem regarding fail divisions.
Many players ask for a ±1, but under the strict rules of the current matchmaker and the content currently available, we would see rather monotonous battles taking place. We will thus postpone this, but I am aware of the complaints regarding this matter and will keep them in mind.
Ranked battles are a complex gamemode. It is the source of a lot of emotions, however not always positive. Especially after a series of defeats. Especially if you worked your fingers to the bones. That is why we try to improve ranked battles each season. What we have done:
- removed a star loss for the best player on the losing team;
- shifted the battles to one tier lower, so during ranked seasons it is easier to unlock new ships;
- changed the rewards and added new ones;
- changed irrevocable ranks so that players are not stuck in a league which is too hard for their “skill”.
We also made many less important changes.
What still needs to be done? Opinions differ about this. We analyse the feedback we receive, there are a lot of ideas. When we will be ready to present at least a near final list of improvements, we will show it to you so you can discuss it. At the minimum, we need to implement the new matchmaker into ranked battles, so battles are more balanced in terms of classes and tiers. We also need to think about different ways to inform players earlier, especially concerning the changes in tiers in each season.
Use of prohibited mods
Many players complain about this. And it it understandable: losing because of “skill” is alright since it is always a reason to try to get better. However, losing because the opponent has an advantage that is not part of the game gives a negative feeling. Moreover, the most annoying thing about this is that skilled players are often wrongfully accused of being cheaters. After all, it is known that there are not many users of prohibited mods.
What is being done? We banned certain mods and then immediately started to punish the players who used them. First we did it publicly, and then we stopped announcing the players we punished so users of those mods did not expect us to catch them. At the current moment, you can meet a user of such mods in about one out of a hundred battles.
What needs to be done? Since the developers of these mods stay quiet about the bans and sow mistrust of us among players, we will end up publishing the data regarding punishments once again. Especially regarding the users of mods that supposedly “cannot be detected”.
High tiers and their gameplay
There are often complaints that the gameplay at high tiers is boring. And to this day, there are many many complaints regarding balance, including class balance. What is being done? We are gradually refining balance as not to have “underperforming” ships. We forced ourselves to upset players by nerfing torpedoes characteristics (which, in turn, led to more BB’s in high tier battles). We created the Bastion gamemode, available only to high tier battles, which we are improving each patch. We introduced missions that can be completed only on high tier ships. And much more.
What needs to be done? Naturally, there is still room for improvement regarding ship balance, but we prefer to do it without having to implement nerfs. We need to add more high tier content, including keeping in mind team battles and adding clan wars. We need to work on the dynamics of the battles themselves.
Rewarded actions in battle
Currently, not all teamplay actions are rewarded. Particularly tanking, spotting, and others. We are currently actively working on this aspect of the game and in the next few updates, we will try to make you happy in this regard. In addition, this will remove some of the problems in ranked battles.
We had a lot, a lot, of ambition regarding the interface. Now, we have much less. In this regard, we have been working in two directions.
First, we analysed players’ complaints and introduced certain improvements. Moreover, we created a system that allows us to add new features into the game or solve problems rather quickly.
Here is what we have already done:
- added the option to choose one’s crosshair;
- created a more detailed post-battle screen;
- added a port selection;
- added a double armament indicator so that both guns and torpedoes reloads can be seen at the same time;
- added a island indicator for shells;
- and more.
Secondly, we worked closely with modders so that mods are not totally broken when we improve the protection of the client. To this end, certain popular modders have joined the developers’ team. We started publishing an official modpack in order for players to be able to better customize their game. To improve it, we hired the developer of the most popular modpack. Currently, we are actively adding mods to the client, for example:
- customisable minimap;
- damage meter;
- smoke borders;
- crosshairs, including dynamic crosshairs.
What needs to be done? The interface can and needs to be constantly improved. With the introduction of every new features, a new interface is made. What we want to do:
- new training room interface (along with good functionality) that will allow us to implement it in the game;
- new settings window;
- crosshairs from contest winners added to the game.
And many more, but, unfortunately, I cannot disclose such information.
Ship and HE shells balance
Even if “nerf this ship/class/ammo” threads will always exist since they are quite subjective, there are often complaints on the forum regarding HE shells, fires and balance. We need to work on those subjects, we are aware of it and are studying the situation.
I will not write about what we have already done since the size of the list would be as large as this whole post. If you want to look it up yourself, just reread patchnotes.
Obscure and hidden mechanics
The game is rather easy to get one’s hands on but very complex in terms of its mechanics. What have we already done? Detailed battle statistics that helps players understand where their income comes from, what bonuses are applied to what and what damage is inflicted on the enemy. We have improved the ribbon system in order to show what happens to you AP shells. Changed smoke mechanics to be more easily understandable. And much more.
What needs to be done? At the minimum, we need to add the possibility to see the armor layout of ships in the port. We also need to make critical hits inflicted to enemies clearer. But we cannot just stop at that. We need to make the game mechanics more easily understandable as well as reducing the impact of RNG.
40% of all battles are fought in PvE. Moreover, this gamemode remained for quite long in the state we have launched it, i.e. battles against a mirrored team of bots. We need to go further than that and improve it.
We have already tested the new gamemode “Storm” and planned certain improvements for it. During the month of July, we have launched an experiment where some missions could only be completed in PvE. We are currently analysing the data. If it happened to be successful and popular, we will add more PvE missions.
Even though it is easier and faster to get credits in our game than in other companies’ games, there are often complaints about the economy. The situation improved through the whole year with us balancing ships’ incomes after the release, beginning with the addition of credits and xp for capping points. From Spring until now, there is a special discount on repairs. We are thinking about implementing it permanently or keep it until we introduce other changes that would increase the amount of credits earned.
However, we still must examine this issue carefully. We want the economy to be accommodating enough for the game to be comfortable at every tier with a premium account and for players without a premium account to have to farm credits at lower tiers from time to time.
We received complaints that secondary batteries are slightly too weak and are acting weirdly. We have added several upgrades, flags and captain skills that improve the secondary guns situation and makes them more deadly against enemies. And in cases where you just did not killed you enemy, these batteries can help you. There is still room for improvement but we have to do it right or we will end up with “World of Battleships”.
At the beginning of Closed beta, there was a tacit rule in every battle “If you are afraid of being sent packing, do not go on the internet”. When discussing the issue, the obscenity filter seemed like a considerable limitation. Unfortunately, it was necessary to prevent players from insulting each other. What are we doing? All chat logs are automatically uploaded and analysed, and if a player insulted another one, he receives a chat ban. The same effect can also be reached with the reports we get from players, but, in this case, it is the players who decide whether or not they feel insulted. In the future, we would like to crisscross this system so that, for example, players who rage at themselves in chat do not get banned. Moreover, we do not analyse division chat or personal messages. In addition to that, we will soon implement “component” bans, i.e. a chat ban will be divided into port, battle, personal and division. This means that a player who received a chat ban will still be able to write to his friends and division mates.
There have been many complaints regarding the severity of the moderation of port chats. Not long ago, we loosened the rules in that regard, which had a positive effect on communications. We will continue asserting the situation and will try to limite the cases where our rules impede on healthy social interactions.
I very well know that it is not very clear. We remove posts that violates the rules but, at the same time, players do not always know what rules they violated. They then ask about it and such posts fall under another rule violation. After that, they get banned. The system is not logical. That is why in the near future we will update the forums and add notifications that will explain why a player’s post has been removed. After that, we hope that the system will be transparent enough and that we can think about ways to improve it.
It now has been quite a long time since we first introduced the karma system on the forums and in the game. And if it meet our expectations on the forums (good posts receive positive karma and bad ones, negative), this system needs improvement in the game. It was supposed to be some kind of an indicator of social adequateness but in its current state, it does not fully fulfill its tasks. Especially in those cases where players report the top three players on the opposite team. We will have to fix this.
There are two things that players often ask to be added into the game: replays and module depot. What is being done? At the moment, we have added a “technical” version of replays into the game. What needs to be done? Implement the replay functionality at a proper level of quality. We have already started working on this. We need to allow players to manage their upgrades. Achieving this by adding a depot or by another more convenient feature, that is the question.
There have been a lot of requests for better team communication tools. What have we done? We have added quick chat commands, and voice chat in the latest update. What needs to be done? We need to improve and expand communication functionalities while taking your feedback into account.
There were a lot of complaints about teamkills and that the current system do not work. How it was. For quite a long time, players could teamkill extensively (they had to sink three or four teammates or deal an extremely high amount of damage to them) before the mirrored damage system would kick in.
What has changed? Now, the mirrored damage system kicks in nearly instantaneously – after a players sinks his first teammate or if he inflicts a low amount of damage. Moreover, teamkillers receive x10 mirrored damage and only inflicts 10% damage against teammates (those numbers are not entirely accurate, unfortunately, since I do not have all the data before me but they are about right). That means that teamkillers become nearly instantaneously harmless to their teammates.
What still needs to be done? Add an automatic ban to serious offenders. There is already a punishment system but it is operated by hand and only once a week. We would like it to be instantaneous, but, in any case, it is always minus one player for one team, which is bad.
Bots and AFK players
There are some complaints about this issue as well. We already manually punish players that display such anti fair-play behaviour. However, we would like to improve the system, making it faster and automatic.
Our updates are quite heavy. Taking into account that they are release about every three weeks, many players are starting to get annoyed. We have started to work actively on reducing the size of our updates and hope that in time, it will make the life of our players easier.
Gold and doubloons unification
For now, we cannot implement this feature because of technical limitations. However, we believe that we will make some progress in this matter and, hopefully, this year. At the minimum, we would like to give players the possibility to transfer their currencies from one game to another, in the case of players who have stopped playing one of our games and would like to play another one.
Too few ships and nations
There are complaints that the game have too few ships and nations. This issue can only be solved slowly. The reason for this is the work needed to create high quality models. Since the release of the game, we have added German and Soviet ships and are about to release German battleships. We will also add British ships this year. We will then gradually add ships we think are interesting to play and beautiful to look at.
Communication between developers and players
We have done a lot of work regarding this matter. Since this post is quite long, I will be brief:
- added comments on the portal;
- shared with players our plans for the year and since recently our patch notes do not need to be edited anymore;
- implemented a three week system for the release of updates, which allows us to add changes and solve problems quicker, and also make every version more stable;
- restructured the forum several times;
- started to rework the forum so as to make it more user-friendly (we will soon release the first patch);
- added surveys in game;
- established regular streams where players can ask questions formally and more entertaining streams on “Корабли TV” where players can discuss with us more informally.
And it is far from being all we have done.
Now that you’re done reading that novel up there, my main comment: restricting the matchmaking for Tier 4 ships was a mistake and has messed up mid-tier matchmaking in general. I hope that a decent solution to this comes soon.