Been going on about a tierless ship tree ever since I first got here on this forum. Thought it’d be about time I posted an explanation on how that might look like in Star Conflict for posterity sake nothing more. But change for change’s sake alone is no good. There are plus points to a tierless ship tree, here are some of those:
- It’s just that much simpler to achieve when all your ships reside within the same power band
- when everything is in one power band, you have the opportunity to segregate the server into a more meaningful basis like winning streak or average efficiency points of last 5 matches or any other performance index between good players and the less successful ones.
- Ship Value
- Lower tier ships lose value as players progress onward. Lower ranked ships are less valuable than a top ranked ship within the same tier even. This is redundant in a tierless ship tree where all ships have equal value.
- From an economic standpoint it makes more sense if all your ships have equal value when trying to sell them for the dollar. Where in the current ship tree each faction has arguably about 6 end game ships, in a tierless ship tree every single one of those 100+ ships has end-game value.
- Extending longevity is a simple matter of adding new content. If you’ve set it up right - a skeleton content crew can churn out periodical content that fits a predetermined modular scheme. Theoretically the game can last for a very long time in this state. With tiers and progression - extending shelf life isn’t as simple because you’ll either expand the last tier or add more tiers to the tree. If you don’t do either then severe balance issues can crop up years down the road when a new player reaches T5 and is matched up against veteran pilots who’s flown for years with rare modules to show for it.
- Tierless relies on specialization for variety, an important ingredient to gameplay. Side product of specialization is the ability to continually add content in a balanced manner.
There are many other advantages which many can come up with on their own, let’s continue on.
So - how does a tierless ship tree look like for a Faction? Click spoiler
Hardly groundbreaking admittedly. But I like the philosophy behind Star Conflict’s ship roles and I see no reason to change that. But what if you do?
No big deal. You can add or omit categories with minimal impact on balance or any other issue. Coming right down to it, it’s just a question of how many ships you want in the game - that’s all. Which incidentally makes shifting dollar values around or adding content later on in the years to come easier to manage.
Clicking on any ship category opens up the Ship Purchase where specialization takes place.
This is also where you mask the progression Grind. Yes - The Grind still exist. It makes you money, why discard that. Difference?
Money Tip #1
" If a player quits the game because of The Grind, he was never gonna pay in the first place."
Opt-out progression don’t really reduce revenue. It retains player headcount. Leap of faith thing, trust me.
- Grindy progression compels those willing to spend to pay up
- Those who never intends on paying, quits
- You get your money
- You also lose players
- Those willing to spend is gonna spend anyway provided value is managed properly
- Those not intending to pay? - They stay on
- If you think revenue will take a hit, there are other ways to make up for it.
In Asia, we call that win-win
Why In The World Would Someone CHOOSE To Grind?
why do some people choose to find every secret room on a level they’ve completed 10 times over already?
why do you play Street Fighter again after having tried out all the characters?
why do casual gamers keep logging into Farmville to harvest the same crop 10 million times over
why do people restart a Solitaire game after having won one game already?
specifically in Star Conflict and the tierless specialization model:
it’s because people want to win
if you believe that having a certain type of ship specialized in a certain way gives you an advantage or atleast improves your odds at killing enemies - you’ll do the grind.
That is an end unto itself. It’s one way people play the game. Unlocking things is an activity. Can be made fun, should be made fun and most of all - players EXPECT it to be fun.
Forcing progression, punishing those who cannot do it well enough then asking money for it rewards you with 2 things
a low Meta-Score
piss poor Gameplay
When you encourage player behaviour towards progression voluntarily:
they have a positive opinion about playing
those willing to spend do so easier
Enough on theory. It’s probably all bullshit anyways.
Here’s the idea behind tierless specialization mechanic:
Key thing to note that needs to be in place to make it work:
Same Powerband, different Characteristics, equal Overall Balance.
Those Green and Red dots are for illustration purposes to show the idea of same overall power, distributed differently. I know game designers are aware of this concept just putting it in for the general audience who might read this.
Mk.I = You need an entry level to keep your options open in case you want to separate casual gameplay / beginner level from the veterans.
an Mk.I entry level ship only server for example.
But the overall performance remains equal relative to the other versions of the ship so it remains competitive when mixed with others
Mk.II = An upgraded version to play the role in a better capacity but suffer handicaps where good understanding of mechanics can reduce the impact.
Mk.III = Then you have specialized versions where hardcore pilots who main those roles can really appreciate.
Using the diagram as an example:
Entry level Fed Tackler doesn’t have max possible level of strengths than the other variants but it does enjoy none of the weaknesses. Feeds into the concept nicely also ie. beginners do not have to deal with adjusting too much from a handicap in ship performance but at the same time, having less than max potential strengths serves as motivation to progress up atleast one level. But theoretically, overall performance stays relatively equal so even if they don’t rank up, it’s still competitive.
Jack-of-all-trades Mk.II variant is the beginning of maximum levels of strengths for the ship type. But it does come with penalties. Balance it right; which includes deciding on the proper handicap types depending on roles, and you should cause the players to change their play style when flying the improved version. So much so that the handicap provide situational limitations where hardcore players are left wanting to eliminate certain weaknesses so they can perform better than any variant in certain situations.
Which leads to the specialized versions of the ship. Mk.III special versions is basically the upgraded ship without one weakness but the other handicap at maximum for eg. Theoretically they remain balanced overall to other versions of the ship but can be extremely good in certain situations which hardcore role pilots might want to use.
Strength 1 = Tackler Module Range
Strength 2 = Afterburner Speed
Weakness 1 = Tackler Module Effectiveness
Weakness 2 = Cloak Duration
Mk.I - Entry Level - “Nub Ship”
This ship has max duration on it’s cloak which new players rely on alot. Tackler module effects at max potential. Serves 2 purposes - it’s easier for learners to see the module’s function + makes up for their lack in experience in timing those modules. eg Target Painter, experienced tacklers can apply maximum usage by timing the activation, a trait newer players most likely lack. Veterans also have equipment fitting knowledge to make up for penalties in this area wherelse new players might not. Max speed and Module range however takes a hit. Not a biggie for newcomers for various reasons.
Mk.II - Upgraded Version - “I Am Tackler Pilot Ship”
Players who decide to go play as tacklers will want the module range at maximum. Afterburner speed aids them in their interceptor dogfights and positioning which they will actively seek out since they’ve begun to understand their role on the team. A shorter cloak time is a handicap they can live with since good tacklers use them in dogfights to mind-screw interceptors and not necessarily as a get out of jail button. However - less than max module effect is a handicap they will feel. Which serves as motivation to rank up one more level to Mk.III
Mk.III - Specialization A - “Pro Team Tackler Ship”
Max module range and effectiveness. Selling point right there. Max Afterburners, nice. Worst cloaking duration? Who cares.
Mk.III - Specialization B - “Ninja Tackler”
Some people find fun in the ninja function that’s possible with the Chameleon F-module. So why not. Max duration, maybe even immunity to decloaking from plasma web, shots and collision why not. Tackler Module Effectiveness takes a big hit tho. But in most ninja cases, you’re there for recon purposes or to sneak up and shoot people with your missiles and guns. Captains, hard to get to LRFs etc. Niche function - but that’s the idea behind specialization isn’t it.
TOTAL NUMBER OF SHIPS = STILL THE SAME
and can be adjusted easily if you ever want to
Each role has 4 versions in this example.
Every faction has got 2 ships of their Main roles and 1 Alternate role
With 3 ship Classes and 3 Factions that’s = 108 ships
About the same number of ships from Rank 1 to Rank 12 currently.
If you want / see the need to add more to the ship count
adjust the specialization tree.
or add to the ship category in the ship tree
2 x Mk.II upgraded ships will add 27 ships to the catalogue
or 1 extra Mk.III
or 1 ship category
EASY TO MANAGE
And this goes back to scalability and periodical content addition, phasing out old ones, adding premium ships, special event ships.
There so much space to add new ships
Easy to remove old ones and replace with new versions to keep interest going ad money flowing
Stick premium or limited edition ships somewhere in there for spot sales
HUGE WIN FOR PLAYERS
Matchmaking imbalances? - thing of the past - ALL 100+ ships are equal now
More variety on the battlefield
Bigger number of tactics
Bigger squads possible manageable by matchmaker
Bigger pool of players for the matchmaking algo to use
More accurate balance metrics for MM to use
Grind? It has a real reward notivation now and it’s NOT FORCED
I love this thing. Best Free 2 Play model
You either grind for the ships or pay real money and get it instantly
Apply this to ALL Mk.II an Mk.III ships
You can play to unlock or Pay up
same ship models, numbers re-stat
progression mechanic: easy way = earn XP to spend on unlocking
progression mechanic: organic way is to tie unlocks with achievements
Mk.I → Mk.II = 200 wins
Mk.II → Mk.III A = 1,200 debuff assists
Mk.II → Mk.III B = 900 Kills within 15 seconds of decloaking
conversion of old ships to new versions might be a problem
could come up with an exchange rate where current ships = certain XP value correlative to time needed to get those ships
existing players then gets XP and use them to instant unlock any ship version in the new tierless system etc.
– this post got too long –
Tierless = Player and Income benefits
Matchmaking issues = solved
Developer Income = unchanged at worst, potential for more if sold properly
Balance = easier to do, easier to hide imbalances (lol), newly discovered OP’ness has a longer time to take effect giving devs more time to react
Ship Tree = Makes sense, Real motivation to Grind