I’ve been noticing over the past few months that the people I play with are becoming more and more absent; there are new people entering the game, but a lot of veterans are either leaving, or spending a fraction of the amount of time on that they once did. Of course people getting bored of a game happens, but this seems to have sped up a lot of late, which suggests to me that something has changed either in the game or in the community.
I have seen plenty of posts talking about very specific issues they have, but I’d like to see a bit of a discussion go on trying to work out if there really is something new that has changed and if so, what is it? If there is something, is there something that can be done about it that won’t just make some other aspect of the game worse? It’s very easy to call for change but not always so easy to see if that change is really, honestly possible, or if people would even be satisfied if that change occurred.
I’m going to drop a few things for starters down here that I have heard along with some thoughts (from myself and from some other friends I have spoken with) about whether these really are big enough problems to account for it.
- The main thing I’ve noticed is that people are saying the game is getting stagnant/isn’t getting enough decent new content. There are differing views within this and it’s hard to pin down the core of the issue. There have been new content releases, such as open space, dreadnoughts and craftable ships. So the problem clearly isn’t that there has been no movement at all, but that people aren’t happy with either the scale, the superficiality, or the quality. That or people think it’s a content issue or there’s actually something else that they can’t quite put their finger on, so they think it’s lack of new content that’s the problem.
The grind is an issue that ties in with the point above. A lot of people think that open space is lacking that certain something that makes it a place people want to be, and therefore aspects of the game have been shoehorned in to force people there on a daily basis if they want PvP to be better for them (finding blueprints and the Dreaded Dailies). Again, there are questions within questions here. Is open space really that bad? Is the idea of dailies good but the execution bad? The thing is, the grind is a very core aspect of the game: people are avid ship collectors and the 'gotta catch ‘em all’ aspect of the game is something that drives a lot of people. Does this mean people will leave the game if there aren’t just more and more ships together? Is ship collection and synergising distracting people from a lack of other reasons to be in Star Conflict? A lot of people want new ships, but where do you stop? Wouldn’t that just be covering over the problem rather than fixing it? (Please bear in mind that this is all hypothesizing and brainstorming as opposed to a set opinion).
Average skill level is decreasing or match-making has got less balanced - most people will say the latter. There has been a suggestion that people are so focused on synergising that they don’t focus on honing skill. Yes, it is known that the better you get the more likely it is that you will gain synergy quickly, but this isn’t necessarily in the forefront of people’s minds. This can mean that people who have worked on their skill will get lumped in with those that haven’t: this is linked with point 2 as the idea is that the grind in itself is what is distracting. A counter to this would be that it’s always been so, so it can’t really be that which has suddenly dropped numbers of veterans. Also, general player base reducing meaning less matches and less balanced matches can be an issue: how to counter this is difficult. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Better player numbers to make the game better or a better game to make the player numbers better? Of course this subject is tied in with the perennial question of ‘do you want more matches, or more balanced matches?’ You can’t (necessarily) have it both ways and someone will always be unhappy.
- There is less skill needed these days. This covers the ECM/drones/frigball/aim-module angle. If people feel that you have to get to a stupendous skill level before that skill overrides other people’s module usage, the game can become very frustrating for people who appreciate skill-based playing (I’m talking quick reflexes, aiming and spacial awareness) as it feels like winning becomes a case of just picking the right ship, having teammates that don’t feed the enemy/sit on spawn and pressing the right buttons. Drones do not involve aim, they just involve placing a drone. I have yet to come across someone that doesn’t think guard frigates aren’t over-powered at the moment, even if they do think frigballs can be beaten with the right tactics. The problem becomes that games start to all look the same: it’s either the format where people use either ECM, frigball or recon-spam and the other team is forced to play a very rigid style to counter it (unless they’re in that very top percentile of players) or the team loses. This makes for a formulaic experience of the game that people really don’t seem to be enjoying.
There is more that I could write, both in support and counter to the things I have posted above, alongside the idea that there has just become a self-perpetuating negativity in the community itself as opposed to there being a problem in the game. Or even the idea that it really doesn’t matter if the veterans leave and that numbers will just pick up eventually in any case. However, I think it’s worth having a bit of a discussion to see if any interesting or helpful points come out.
So go ahead. Good luck. Have fun.