What is the point of this change?
To find the reason for the changes we have to go back in time, to when VC was first created. When KIXEYE first imagined VC it was as a space themed version of a PC game we had previously created called Battle Pirates. It’s not in our DNA to simply clone games, even one of our own, so we purpose built VC from the ground up as a true PC space game. In the process creating a bunch of new features such as combat strafing, hull classes, weapon arcs, planets, moving PvE fleets, interception, wormholes, shields, mines, asteroids and factions. As is often the case when creating new things, some of them work well, some… not so well. We’ll come back to the not-so-well bit in a minute.
At the same time as we were launching VC on PC, games were exploding onto a different device entirely: the phone. As VC was our latest and greatest game we decided to create a mobile version of it as our first proper excursion onto the mobile platform. We also decided that the mobile version of VC was not going to be a different game, dumbed down for mobile players, it was (and is) the exact same game as the PC version. Mobile players coexisting and competing with PC players in the same universe. Which is pretty cool and, as far as I’m aware, unique among realtime MMO games.
Mobile has since gone on to become the largest platform for VC. However, designing and supporting an identical game across platforms that are so different in size, power and accessibility is not without its tradeoffs. Some aspects of the original PC game work well on mobile, some not so much.
And this is where we catch up to today, or rather five months ago, when KIXEYE started to put some serious thought into addressing the areas of VC that were not working well.
To you, the long time players, the game feels good as it is. It doesn’t feel broken or badly out of shape. You like playing the game - if you didn’t you wouldn’t have continued playing it month after month. And yet here am I saying it needs fixing. Well... we’re both right. As it turns out, you guys (and gals) are pretty unique. Out of the millions of people who have played VC, it really connected with a small, select subgroup of those people (you) who really enjoyed playing VC day after day, month after month. The majority of people didn’t find what they were looking for in VC and simply stopped playing. For those people, VC failed. It failed to be fun. It failed to be engaging day after day.
And there lies the catch-22. Some of the aspects of the game that appeal to the current player base are the exact same aspects that frustrate or overload new players. To improve the experience for new players, and to grow VC, we have to alter the game to make it more attractive to new players. Sometimes, after considering all other options, this includes altering the game in a way that frustrates the current player base.
We do not want you thinking that you are not important to us. Long time players are the lifeblood of the game. In many ways you are the game. However for VC to grow and entertain a new generation of players it must change and adapt. Ultimately we feel the result is worth the effort.
Who in the dev team came up with this? They should be fired/stabbed/[Insert terrible thing here]:
That would be me. As a huge fan of VC I want to see the game reach the highs I know it can. I returned to the game as Creative Director back in August, and while the current situation is definitely a low point, the features the team are currently working on are some of the most exciting I’ve seen in any of our games.
You’re removing the ships individuality/variety:
We’re putting together another post to address this in more detail and with more data.
You’re dumbing down the game, I like complexity.
The game is getting more simple with regards to ship speeds, that is true. However there are different kinds of complexity. Speed is a very important stat. So important that it can override nearly all other stats except for Range. When that happens the game actually loses a ton of complexity, as the number of meaningful combat stats drops from many to few. Bringing more consistency to hull speeds should return more complexity than it takes as the number of meaningful stats increases. Over time, we expect more hull classes to become useful to more players.
You’re only doing this for the money:
This specific set of changes will most likely lose us money in the short term. We know we’ve lost the confidence of players by moving the goalposts and it will take time to rebuild it. None of the changes are designed to make money, they are designed to improve the accessibility of the game by better defining the meta.
How can I feel safe investing time/money into the game when you can just change everything in a heartbeat?
We decided the best approach was to get all the disruptive changes out in one go. To just rip the band-aid off. More disruptive in the short term but it sets us up to be more consistent in the longer term. One of our key goals for the future is to increase the longevity of ship builds across all classes. It is vital to the health of the game that ships have long, useful lives.
The hull repair change will significantly shift the meta of ship design towards lower armor, high damage ships. As it does ship repair times will fall. We are planning on providing some assistance to players to help them adjust their equipment to the new meta.
In the examples linked to above many of the ships have traded weaponry for armor and shields, which is the current meta. Those ships should now downgrade their shields and armor and take more weapons. As they do their repair times will drop. We will be monitoring builds to make sure this happens.
Note, the ISC / Cruiser Armor bonus is ‘repair free’. An ISC ship with a 30% Armor bonus is not charged repair for the additional armor points.