September Creative Developer Update
What an August! We released some really big features in 12v12 and 3PV: Both have been a great success and delivered on our goals of adding more action, tactics, and deeper gameplay (12v12), while continuing to make the game appeal to a broader audience of gamers (3PV). After releasing 3PV we saw an immediate improvement in our target demographic, with a good bump in new player retention!
We continue to see a steady increase in online players, with more new MechWarriors joining us every day. Registrations continue to be strong with a very nice increase during the month of August. Our Phoenix program was a big success and we’re very excited to deliver the Phoenix `Mechs October!
Behind the scenes, we have been working hard on UI 2.0, CW, and Clans. Our first UI 2.0 preview build was just delivered to me this week, and I’m really excited to get a version up on public test. This new UI framework is the gate keeper for almost everything we are working on right now, including Community Warfare (more revealed a bit later in this update).
Game balance continues to take a top priority as we work to keep the game tuned and balanced with an ever evolving meta-game. Expect to see more tweaks to weapons in the next few patches, especially after we introduce some more Host State Rewind (HSR) fixes in a near future patch. These HSR tweaks fix a few known bugs and will help improve overall hit detection for most players.
Our Sarah’s Mech charity drive concluded with over $122,000 being raised for the Canadian Cancer Society. I had the pleasure of meeting Jon and his family, who visited our studio in Vancouver and IGP’s offices in Montreal.
As for the economics, we’ve heard some talk about the reduction in C-Bill rewards. As previous replies to the community in the latest ATD have stated, we needed to rein in some of the rewards a bit as they had grown beyond our original thresholds by about 16%. This is normal and common as a game evolves and players become more efficient. The addition of 12v12 also required a tuning pass to lower the earning by around 13% to account for an additional 8 players on the battlefield. The future vision for CB and XP rewards includes a more granular, role based approach currently in design and development. These expanded earnings will reward players directly for performing specific roles, allowing them to distinguish themselves.
Some economic math from our telemetry data:
- Average match time is 8.4 minutes.
- Average CB/match is 79,069.
- Average CB/hour is 564,778 if you only have 1 BattleMech to use.
- New players can earn 7,981,686 in cadet bonuses during their first 3.5 hours in addition to between 1-3 million in regular game earnings.
It’s important to note that new or inexperienced players will be below this average, while experienced or veteran players will be above this. Player’s with premium time and/or a Hero Mech can expect to better still. New players can earn enough money to buy several light or medium Mechs with just their cadet bonus, or can opt to buy 1 or 2 heavies, or 1 assault. In fact a new player can buy their very first Mech within just a handful of matches, begin upgrading and acquiring new permanent equipment for future Mechs.
If players so wish, they can even increase C-Bill earnings substantially by exiting matches if they are destroyed early, and jumping into a new one.
If your Mech is destroyed to a roaming band of Jenners early on, you can jump out of that match and into a new one right away – potentially doubling your C-Bills to 1.2 million per hour! This cuts down your time to purchase new Mechs and equipment.
Like game balance, we are constantly evaluating the economic environment and will continue to make small tweaks to keep the economics balanced.
I also wanted to take time to clear up a few laundry items, mostly to do with communication and promises. I think I’ll start with a lesson from my wife: Never say never, or always. I have to agree. Even though best intentions and plans for future designs and direction of the game can take a different course as we develop them, we have learned to avoid using words of certainty whenever possible. We’ve seen these type of words frame our messaging in a way that some community members either see this as a promise, or guarantee. I want to always remind our community that we do our best to describe both our vision and roadmap, and that sometimes we are going to make decisions that you may not agree with. MechWarrior Online is constantly evolving and changing. It’s a living breathing project that will never stay still, rather react to players, analytics and external influences, like new trends in gaming.
The community is very large, and represents a broad segment of players. There are vocal minorities and silent majorities on all subjects and we always have to balance between these groups. We have found that analytics and player profiling has helped us identify the needs of most demographics and while it may seem that we either a) don’t listen or b) are making choices that go against the “players” opinion, this is simply not the case. People can become focused on narrow aspects of the game, and forget about the bigger picture. We all have favourite weapons, builds, Mechs that we want to be the best they can be, but oftentimes we can overly focus on what affects us, and forget about other players with other Mechs, builds, and so on.
You will have already noticed a new form of communication since spring, largely due in part to focusing our efforts on the Ask the Devs format, and the monthly Creative Director updates. I have also changed how we discuss future major designs, keeping them closer to the chest until we are ready to make a presentation to the community. A good example is how we handle the UI 2.0 introduction and discussion. A lot of player feedback drove the design of UI 2.0, and we view it as a great success in communication and community involvement in the design process. You can expect the same when we reveal our Community Warfare design at the launch event! This presentation will reveal some of the features our core audience has been after for some time now, and we’re very excited to show you what’s been in the works.
I also see a lot of “IGP vs PGI” or “IGP’s to blame”. This is unfair and simply not true. We are partners, and we work very closely to decide the direction of the game. Ultimately PGI has to approve everything as the license holder, so laying blame at IGP’s doorstep is misguided. IGP has an absolutely amazing team of dedicated, passionate individuals, and they are a large part of making sure MWO is available for everyone to enjoy!
That last piece of housekeeping is less enjoyable to discuss but I feel the need to remind all of our members to respect both your fellow players and the staff at IGP and PGI. We have seen an alarming number of verbal, and written threats directed at staff. These threats, whether idle or simple jokes will be treated as real, with local authorities being notified. There is no situation on earth that warrants these attacks, so I kindly remind you to think twice before posting anything that might be viewed in this light. Behind each of the names you see on the forums or Facebook or Twitter, are real people. Please keep that in mind - we do!
With that out of the way, I’m really looking forward to the Launch Event in San Francisco, I’m very excited. We had an excellent response to our event invites and I think we’ll see some really competitive teams going for the win. It will be good to see some familiar faces, and you will get to meet a bunch of developers, some of whom will be first time attendees at a public MWO event. That’s about it for now! September is going to be a really busy month, and I’m looking forward to launch and all the new features coming live in the next 90 days! It’s a very exciting time for MWO as we deliver some long desired community features!