183 active users from the past 7 days (in General)
March 25 2010 3:11 PM EDT
Can we at least agree we have a big problem ?
And that the solution IS NOT just more advertising, nor is it small subtle changes, and neither is adding graphics ?
Because so far, I have seen a general denial of the fact CB might be facing practical death, and if the problem is ever actually acknowledged, the main sentiment seems to be that the only thing driving people away is the "old fashioned" look, as opposed to something else entirely (like, oh, say, a combination of the way N*B is handled, the free CB$-USD conversion, the glaring long-term imbalances in strategies and so on - the fundamental things, that is, which only went to become worse and worse as time passed).
March 25 2010 3:17 PM EDT
Maybes a little bit of them all could help Sickone?
Not sure there's one main reason why players join and leave...
Here's a few I can think of:
2. Maybes a small amount of advertising - (though 1 would have to be fixed first) :)
March 25 2010 3:27 PM EDT
7518 users who created a Character
7 new users in the past 24 hours
CB(2) has been alive for, what, around 1900 days now or thereabouts, so the "new accounts" rate is actually above average... quite a bit above average if you take into account the fact the first few hundred users probably signed up in the first couple of days. So, no, advertising isn't the issue at all.
Yeah, the tutorial does tend to put off more people than it helps (the fact that it doesn't even work all that well doesn't help either), but still, that's not it either. The tutorial is more or less the same, but the retention rate has kept dropping, so you can't blame the tutorial either.
March 25 2010 3:33 PM EDT
Another reason i'll throw at you....
Had a friend join who's into his RPG's and games, he liked the concept of the game.
However he thought the game overwhelming, in the fact of how detailed it is.
To us common users we find it ordinary.. however we, i feel, sometimes forgot CB is very, very complex-ed (most of us like this) However new players may not..
Just my thoughts.
Without adding graphics, how would you suggest updating CB to look more modern? I don't think we have any graphic designers here in our midst any more.
The one guy who was going to help with the redesign has went off to work on flash games and iPhone stuff.
Sure you can.
Everyone loitering here for years exhausted their supply of friend/child/coworker/waiter/roommate/cousin/call girl referrals quite some time ago. Which means fewer new people over time get the "ignore the tutorial, trust me" advice. Certainly that, and any number of other factors, will skew your impressively simplistic statistical analysis.
I think the complexity is cool, but we don't have any way of toning it up or down for new players. We don't have a template for characters that can be tweaked, we just have the full-on crazy character creation screen.
We are never going back to 1000 users a week. You could give 5 USD$ to every new user and it wouldn't happen.
CB was a niche game when it started existing, and I'm pretty sure the player demographic it is aimed at has shrunk in numbers over the years.
It sucks that people see it this way but:
I'd love to be able to offer a miracle solution but I can't. However I think it's not reasonable to wish for our old, and bigger, playerbase.
As a player who's been here for almost 4 years, I can say the only things I'd see making this game get more people to stay are a Rolling Bonus or limited graphics.
Sadly, it can't be 2001 forever.
I think you maybe being a little too bias Sickone. Most people are not going to quit from small imbalances. I personally think the Exbow and RoBF are too powerful but that is not going to cause me to rage quit from the game. However, the lack of changes and things to do will have a more say on whether I stay or go. I think only people who play very competitively will be swayed to leave from imbalances in strategies.
Also, I think your brushing aside how bad the tutorial is. When I started tutorial actually worked for me. When I got a few of my friends to try the game out and was sitting there helping them do things, the tutorial completely failed and ended up making them quit.
So basically, I am saying there are 3 groups of people: new, hardcore and the common or casual. The new are probably turned off from the tutorial or huge gap between ranks (nothing you can help with that). The hardcore will quit because of long-term imbalances and CB-USD ratio. And then your third and largest group which are your casual players who are just getting bored with the same items and spells for almost a year now. (I remember being new and change months were so funny and interesting; it was something to be excited about on CB.)
Lastly, I have not said anything about the N*B because that is really all I have known. And I personally like it and don't really think the rolling bonus would have the same effect on me as the N*B has. I would actually probably quit if such a thing was implemented.
March 25 2010 3:56 PM EDT
I think the complexity is cool, but we don't have any way of toning it up or down for new players.
And I've got to agree with Nathan here. Just reread his post and pretend I'm saying it.
Yes, the N*B setup is running people away. Completely agree. But advertising is still key. The more you throw against the wall, the more will stick. We have a ton more competition than in CB1, and since that competition is Flash based, graphics are even more important to retention than ever before -- not that we'll ever have graphics, but it makes new players more fickle.
When I joined CB1, I did so after searching for text based games because my graphics card died. If my card died now, I'd just use the onboard graphics chip and keep playing on Kongregate.com.
Does the N*B need to be replaced with a rolling bonus? Yes. Would that help retention? Only for those who quit because of frustrion with screwing up their one and only chance with a NUB. We still need to advertise.
On another note, cleaning up the confusion will help (we're used to all the data, but new players may not know what to do). We also need to update the appearance with a sleeker GUI. But unless NS has a hidden expert skill in website creation, that won't happen. Any volunteers?
March 25 2010 3:58 PM EDT
Frustrion = frustration
March 25 2010 3:59 PM EDT
some simple things:
At CB you only hit enter and train, after a period one may find it just boring and repetitive, sometimes even looks like an obligation if u really wanna be dedicated. Some people just don't want have to do something, they will like game where u play when u want and that wont let u be very far from others.
It takes a long time to acquire equipment all equipment needed, also to learn different strats. Its a real long term game and not everybody will like it. Mixing it with the fact its a text only game...
that's just a little i can say with my poor english.
Simplifying the early game is as simple as raising the base level and xp for the more complex attributes. This is actually pretty standard RPG fare and I've been harping on it for years.
our retention rate sucks! if 99.9 percent of the people trying cb fail to stick, then advertising more or even better will make little to no difference. we have plenty of new people coming in, we just need to keep them.
with that in mind, during the brief time that i thought i was on the player council, shade and i tried to set up mailings to follow up on new users and get some feedback on exactly why they quit logging in. many of us think we know the answer, but we have email addresses and ways to find out for sure and that should be our priority.
we ran into problems with the mailer daemon though and it wouldn't actually send out the messages. nightstrike said he would look at it when he got the chance. again i will stress that i think this should be the number one priority.
since i am not on the council, i handed this over to novice. unfortunately i have no idea where we are on any of this, but i did want to share with everyone what i do know.
When I joined CB1, I did so after searching for text based games because my graphics card died.
Simplifying the early game is as simple as raising the base level and xp for the more complex attributes. This is actually pretty standard RPG fare and I've been harping on it for years.
We also need to make organising a fighltist more, fun.
Currently, it's slow paced, unintuitive, and not fun.
But as mentioned above, 'this gens' gamers are hooked on the XB/PS3 'acheivements', and will replay games over and over to get all the Trophies.
We need these sort of hooks to help keep people.
We also need some big game changes to shake things up, and give vets new unkown stuff to mull over.
March 25 2010 7:05 PM EDT
I still think the Wiki doesn't help. It's like a really difficult instruction manual. Some of the best games I've ever played had manuals that ran to no more than 4 pages.
I remember when the Wiki didn't exist. It kept the forums nice and busy discussing what did what, what to train, what weapons to use, what items to use.
A huge part of my involvement in the game came out of those discussions.
March 25 2010 7:06 PM EDT
Perhaps if we listened to those who have played this game for years and kept it going via Supporterships/Item Namings/Donations, we would have a larger and stronger player base.
While other games such as WoW can get away with having the developers ignore the huddled masses, CB is small enough to need every player and should try to keep the huddled masses happy.
Instead of pissing them off.
jw, our population was quite different then as well though. if you got rid of the wiki now and have the small population, we wouldn't go back to the days of frequent and involved discussion automatically.
if we are talking retention here, i don't see how the wiki could be hurting that. i can see how the tutorial, a lack of graphics, a stale and difficult early game due to tournaments draining score or even difficulty in finding opponents might be affecting retention though.
March 25 2010 8:24 PM EDT
What we see here is called a "failure cascade", with many factors contributing, and the shift in their strength leads to a less and less appealing new user experience.
Yes, the lack of graphics is a factor. But there were mostly-text-based games with very little or no graphics even before CB1 started, and some are still running pretty decently. Not doing great, true, but with more active users than could be seated in a large restaurant for sure. Granted, most do not even try to go "persistent game world", like CB does, and it would indeed be a mistake to try to make CB round-based now, but it should give you something to think about (more on this later).
Yes, the appaling tutorial is a factor too. The best thing right now, honestly, would be to simply remove it altogether until further notice. I might be underestimating the importance of "just ignore the tutorial if you can" advice, but people that blame it all on the tutorial have even less of of a rational argument. For the record, I was nobody's referral, and I heard about the game from somebody in my corp in EVE who used to play it a long time ago (during CB1, actually). And no, he hadn't told me to "skip the tutorial" or anything like that.
So what exactly would the problems I perceive to be the ones "that got worse" anyway, and what could be done to make them less of a problem ?
FOR STARTERS, THE SCORE AND NUB/NCB GROWTH RATES
Even if you don't remember your NUB days, or you haven't run a NCB recently, you must remember some of the high-bonus tournaments you played in.
Simply put, you grow too fast, too soon, you can't find any decent targets (score-wise) until you're way up, and generally pretty much everything below 2 mil score (if not even almost 3 mil score) is a veritable new dead zone, with plenty of targets, but none of them decent due to the godawful score:pr ratios.
We haven't gotten rid of the dead zone, we just moved more people into the high areas, and shifted it higher up... but when compared to the old day dead zone area with regard to old day top MPR, it's pretty much the same.
The big difference ? There were far more ACTIVE people below the dead zone, so it actually took longer to get into the real dead zone, and people near it would get some score infusions more often.
Now, you have people that grow at rates so incredibly high very early on, and then, BAM, you hit a soft wall of "hard" targets and you slow down, worse and worse each passing month... and unless you find out fast what you can do to get at least one good target, you're as good as stuck.
You only need to look at the "well-performing" NCBs of today to see what I mean - more often than not, their fight lists are incredibly small.
What can be done about this ?
Well, for starters, kill the whole "auto-retire" thing, and unretire all currently retired characters. THEN, make it so that if scores are low, they will slowly trend towards PR even if the character had absolutely no fights at all in the past (do it at cache flush time, maybe 3% per day or so, so even a completely score-leeched-target would recover in a month). Simply put, heavily inject score into the lower PR regions, re-creating reasonably rewarding targets on a periodic basis.
THE CLAN SYSTEM IS NOT REALLY THAT APPEALING ANYMORE
Since the people in higher BA regen rates have either no or very little penalties for attacking people below, and since there's a dire scarcity of targets with decent scores, as soon as a N*B gets out of the "new dead zone", they're practically farmed to death, clan-point-wise.
The fact they also try to find mostly clan targets to fight (either having to attack sub-par targets to keep clan points up) or sacrifice clan performance by hitting non-6-point-clan targets (if not even practically forced to go for non-clan targets).
So, what to do ?
SIMPLE ! Kill the whole "reduced penalty" thing - if a 8 mil PR character wants to hit a 4 mil score character, LET THEM SUFFER A -50% PENALTY DAMMIT. If anything, you should "reverse the polarity" - have it so that 10/20 would suffer no penalties whatsoever, 9/20 only 25% penalties and so on, with 6/20 full penalties. This should make people fight "worthy" clan targets.
While you're at it, you might as well remove the whole negative score thing, and the auto-retiring of low-scoring clans too... just make scores earned a bit lower instead. Of course, you may have to find a different scale for clan bonuses too (as there would be too many that qualify), and the scale should not be based on clan rank, but instead on clan points as a percentage of top clan points instead.
THE ISSUE OF CB$-USD CONVERSIONS
Now, say what you want, but the idea that just because you can't completely police such transfers you should simply allow them instead is... well, how to put it mildly... insane ?
I never hear the same argument about, oh, say, multies, or purposefully gimping characters to aid in tournaments or whatnot. Simply making something punishable WILL decrease the frequency of it happening. If nothing else, we would have far less "sell-outs".
Now, if you argue, but what if I want to be competiive and you want more CB$ for something ? Well, make it so that you can buy CB$ for USD _FROM_THE_GAME_ITSELF_ instead of other players.
Cash goes in, cash never comes out.
CB$ buyers remain somewhat happy, sellouts we don't really care for in a good way, and everybody else knows that people that play the game actually play the game because they might enjoy it, as opposed to "only playing because some guy I know told me I could make money from it".
LONG-STANDING, SLOWLY/NEVER/IMPROPERLY REMEDIED IMBALANCES
Say what you want, but the EXbow has been a thorn in CB's back for a long time, and no, the current situation is not noticeably better than the one before the "improvement".
The melee-vs-ranged issue was never properly settled either, it actually got worse after the AC rebalance and the previous "ranged damage adjustment".
And don't get me started on the whole "DM vs AMF/EC" issue either, or the "FB vs any other DD" one.
The ROBF thing isn't nearly as bad as any of the above, but it's still somewhat of a long-standing issue, even if minor in comparison.
DISPOSABLE TEAMS AND INCREDIBLE ADVANTAGES OF NUBS OVER NCBS
The title should say it all. If it doesn't, I don't know what game you're playing.
Also, it's a slap in the face for people that don't start their NUBs properly, then get told they pretty much blew their only real chance to get to the top easily.
The difference between NUBs and NCBs need to come down hard, and the NUB period needs to _not_ start right away, and preferably also ramp up slowly instead of all at once in high gear.
THE "SO WHEN CAN I GET A GOOD SLEEP AND NOT FEEL LIKE MISSING OUT" SYNDROME
When we had x/10 rates, you at least knew most people were missing some BA, unless they were "cheating" by sharing accounts (which, I'm told, actually was allowed at one time), so the overall attitude was a "meh, I don't really need to be all that sad about some lost BA".
Now, however, you have 6/20 which is basically pretty easy on most _except_ the real casual gamers (which should be the core target demographic), and 10/20 which is terrible for almost everybody until they get out of it as far as possible.
Either go back to x/10, so _everybody_ would miss more BA, or go to x/30 instead so even 10/30 would be decent enough, while 6/30 would end up quite nice even for truly casual gamers.
And last but not least...
GAME IS DESIGNED SO MPR GROWTH TENDS TO BE LINEAR, BUT LEVELS/MPR ISN'T LINEAR !!!
It's pretty easy to follow, isn't it ?
I mean, from 1 mil MPR to 2 MPR, you gain a certain amount of levels (about 5.2 mil), but from 2 to 3 mil you actually gain more (5.9 mil), and between 5 and 6 mil MPR much more (7.2 mil). Oh, and from near zero to 1 mil, it's just around 3.7 mil.
Bottom line, the "lead" teams gain much more "firepower" faster, but the rewards for beating them are not so great at all.
If anything, I would design the system to work exactly in the opposite direction - the HIGHER in MPR you went, the LOWER you would gain additional levels.
What do you know, we had that in, in the form of higher XP costs per trained level of stuff... but we know how that was changed.
Yeah, I'm saying it was a bad idea and it should be reverted.
AND THAT'S JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.
Yo know, common knowledge stuff.
March 25 2010 8:37 PM EDT
make it so that if scores are low, they will slowly trend towards PR even if the character had absolutely no fights at all in the past (do it at cache flush time, maybe 3% per day...)
I'm just re-posting this for the "too long didn't read" crowd. At quick glance, I don't see anything wrong with it, and it looks like an attractive fix.
March 25 2010 9:13 PM EDT
I think Dudemus brings up a good point, and the results of such "investigation" could come up with some ideas. I think most of the problems the "hardcore" players notice, are far from being the reasons new people quit.
I signed up 4 years ago, didn't do well during my NUB, and felt completely shut out with no possibility of ever being competitive with the main user base. I'm recently returned only because a couple friends at work have shown some interest. One of them was completely bogged down by lack of options in the interface, and I felt it was worth $11 to show him what he was missing (so I didn't look like a complete fool for saying this game was cool) and bought him a supportership. He's doing much better now, in spite of still struggling with strats, but I honestly don't know if he'll stick it out. As for me, I guess I'm probably only committed as long as they're around to race upward with. The prospect of spending a half-year maximizing BA with my NCB is not a pleasant one. Even if I could go that long without a good night's sleep, what would my reward be? Well, then I could be on equal standing in the community. I'd personally rather pay hard cash and participate on a schedule of my choosing.
Sickone's epic post above was excellent, not only stating the problems as people have done over and over, but putting forth some good suggestions for fixes.
It would be useful to know a bit more about new user behavior. It shouldn't be too hard to collect more stats on how much BA gets used, what their rates of gain are, and at what point in progression they're most likely to quit. Kind of how modern MMO's are built these days to maximize retention. They collect every type of stat on the player they can think of, and tweak the game until they get the player behavior they're looking for. If only .1 percent of all new signups stick around, there is really no point in advertisement; retention is where the focus should be.
I personally like the text aspect of the game, and, even if it were Flash-based with graphics, I'd prefer to have access to all the battle info I do now. The complexity is what makes it interesting, if it were simpler, you'd definitely need flashy graphics and animation to keep the children interested, but that's not our demographic. As it stands, I don't think it needs graphics. To keep my interest, the water needs to get deeper not more shallow.
from what i observed, most weren't sticking around for more than 24 to 48 hours which wouldn't give them time to get to the point where they are running into dead zones or other game issues.
you can see this for yourself easily enough. just go in once a day for a few days and copy and paste all of the new users for the past 24 hours from the community page. once ya get a few dozen, give it another day or two for all of them to quit logging in and then go back and see how high they got in mpr or battles fought.
not that people aren't getting frustrated and leaving the game for the reasons in sickone's post, but the vast majority of users quit before they run into those issues.
once again, theorize all that you want but it would be very easy to just find out!
March 25 2010 11:06 PM EDT
Sickone, I agree with all your points save one: have 6/10 users be penalized for attacking lower targets? How about instead we reduce the amount of clan points it takes away based on the percentage of your pr vs the targets? I think that would be a much more fair solution. And increase clan points gained by the same method.
March 26 2010 2:01 AM EDT
dudemus has a valid point guys. When i first came onto CB there was a "mentor" mine just so happened to be someone who was just as new as i was or it was novice im not to sure.chat really helped me out deciding what stratigy to go. But its just to boring for a newbie now days to login to the game and have text tell him to "buy a whip from the bussinesses" there has to be a plot line or something to get them hooked early. factions would be great, including lawful or chaos you decide which to be. a back line story? something along those lines i think would help greatly. one more thing if we had a welcoming crew or just some people in chat to initiate with some hellos and not just everyone in carnage chat all the time. just some thoughts on the manner im sure the admins/mods have already thought of some of these
I love the idea of score increasing up to PR every cache flush. If this would be too much inflation then maybe just for people 8/10 and under? If not that then at the very least make tourney characters not steal score :(.
Having not enough challenge is just as bad if not worse than it being too hard. Increasing score to PR will mean that all of those gimped chars who are completely score drained will never be autoretired and also they will constantly feed score to everyone.
Stopping tourneys from draining score out is a good idea and will definitely help.
Great post Sick.
Covers just about everything.
I too agree with Nem that pumping score back into the game is a bad thing, but I agree with unretiring all the retired characters, giving users more targets to hit.
I mentioned an 'out of the box' method to stime competition in CB. Pay for everyone to retire their farms.
Then new bonus runs (the only thing to catch you) would have no targets, and would be unable to catch you.
Also, I want to highlight that I'm not the only perosn who's been saying that the design that the larger you are, the better rewards you get and the larger you grow, is a bad design.
If this was reversed, we wouldn't need an artifical bonus to allow smaller teams to catch up, and to be honest, I can't think of any other game, at all, that has this sort of design. Capped or uncapped.
Could we ask the CPC to pick up each of the issues Sick mentions and forward suggestions for improvements on to the Devs?
nem, i do believe that is the point exactly! without an influx of new users as we have had in the past, the lower game is virtually impossible for a new user with no gear on. it works ok for ncb's who can get around encumbrance with junction or always run at max tat.
as more characters are auto retired it gets worse. i think that is why sickone also suggested putting all the retired characters back in service as well.
if we cannot have live people down there fighting then we do need some soft targets. challenge bonus is integral to getting to the planned level for bonus characters. if some in the game were able to get a 100 percent challenge bonus years ago and new users cannot (or even cannot get 100 cb on as many targets or as easily) now, then the system is flawed.
March 26 2010 5:55 AM EDT
Increasing score to PR will mean that all of those gimped chars who are completely score drained will never be autoretired and also they will constantly feed score to everyone.
Yes, but they will only feed score now and again, since you make them recover at a slow pace. A month to fully recover score if not touched at all in the meantime is a pretty slow score injection, since those targets that get easily beaten will seldom get a chance to get to the score=pr bit (the more people fight them, the lower their scores will stay). Also, they'll very likely get passed as worthy targets by the N*B soon enough to not matter much later on, especially if you also do the "6/20 = max penalties" bit.
March 26 2010 7:35 AM EDT
Shadow Ruler's post reminded me of what I enjoyed when I started. It wasn't the mentor system, which I don't believe existed when I started (and I didn't like), but it was the advancement of gear. I still recall forging my compound bow rather large in hopes of one day landing an ELB.
But those days are gone. Now it's just a matter of picking out your gear and waiting two weeks to get every bit of it -- and forging is a big time no-no for NUBs.
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