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Zenithar



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Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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I came back to take a look at this game due to the steam launch after having moved beyond it long ago. In the decade since I last played this game, I myself have become a developer and QA Engineer.

I figured, in addition to throwing a bit of financial support at an old love, I might as well provide some constructive feedback. I hope it's of use to the development and community as a discussion point in this concentrated form, as many of the individual issues discussed herein have been mentioned previously over the years, just not concentrated in one analytical work.

(Aside: I had to go dredge up whatever old account I used to play on simply because the steam client based account has no connection to the forums whatsoever. The 'register an account button' link sends you to a login page, not a place where one can register either a forum account or game account. I'm not certain how relevant the forums are considered to the game at present, but making the act of getting to post this not require me take a roundabout path is certainly on my recommendations list.)

I decided to purchase DLC to throw some money at a company whom I could never support the more-than-decade ago where I actively played their game, convinced a few friends to try it out with me.

The puzzles hold up, the neat emergent economics system holds up. I've enjoyed my foray thus far and plan to continue it.

However, there is one pervasive game design decision that, while sensible for the game's initial launch, causes substantial deleterious effects all across the game.

This series of posts is intended to demonstrate and enumerate the negative effects of the fully curved skill system on new player engagement and retention and the game economy, how it creates a disincentive towards the primary gameplay loop while incentivizing players towards isolation.

The final post contains recommendations (With an eye and respect towards limited developmental resources) and opening of a discussion point for the community - I'd ask people refrain from commenting until that post drops.
I note here right at the start that after looking over the issue in full there is one very simple to implement mitigation that ameliorates quite a number of issues and that I advocate strongly for.

If you're interested in skipping what is essentially discussion of things that, as best I can tell, are fairly well understood as somewhat common knowledge among the informed, you can skip right on down to the last post,
that discusses some differing ideas and proposals for things that might make the situation better.

TLDR - If you just want conclusions, go to the last post.
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Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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Part 1: New Player Discouragement.

New players in any competitive multiplayer game are inherently at a disadvantage due to inexperience. In a game with a player-organized and operated economy with incumbent players this effect is magnified, as older players have access to economies of scale and incumbent advantages (In this game, with things like much larger cargo ships and available allies.)

But this is okay - these elements provide a reward for experience and mastery, and time investment. They show a new player what can be aspired to.

However, so far as I am aware, uniquely to this game, not just their rank, but every single potential action a new player can take towards influencing the game world, and their feedback of play, is weighted against the very best player in their entire server, from the very beginning they step into the game.

Anecdotal Evidence - I myself used to play the game intensively. I play games in general, frequently. On starting this game up again and being dissatisfied with my performance I proceeded to read every single article on scoring mechanics and every guide produced for this game from 2003-to present - and after about a week of experience, I am occasionally getting excellents and frequently getting goods.

Based on the art design, color palette, everything about this games apparent target player, it is fair to say that this anecdotal experience isprobably atypical, but don't quote me on it.

I expect a brand new player to this game to be frequently seeing indicators that 'They need to do better' nearly constantly, which is discouraging, and their actual contribution to a group experience is insubstantially different from an NPC, which can lead to resentment towards newer players from older ones.

Altogether this paints an overwhelmingly negative picture towards the likelihood of a completely new player picking up this game for the first time deciding to stick with it, and that's not really something anybody wants.
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 22, 2018 7:22:38 AM]
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Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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1.1: The Carpentry Negative Feedback Loop.

I'm not going to bore anyone with explaining these basic premises are coming from in detail, and presume the reader is with us on this list, as this topic has been discussed previously among the community.

- The Carpentry puzzle is a game of managing probabilities.
- The most difficult stage of the Carpentry puzzle to successfully manage probabilities in, is the final segments of a given difficulty section - where new open holes cease appearing, and the player must finish the last holes on their board without new places opening to put pieces that don't fit the remainder.
- The number of holes that can be played in a given difficulty session increases as the player's ranking goes up.
- More points are scored for finishing more difficult (Larger) holes.

In essence- a classic Unstable Equilibrium.

- If a player starts off good at Carpentry, the game will reward them with an increasingly easier puzzle to actually succeed in.

- Conversely, if the player does not start off good at Carpentry, they gain skill experience which results in them having to do even better to begin increasing their skill ranking.

The players you want to see making progress and getting better the most are the brand new, bottom of the skill ladder players, and the system actively puts a barrier in the way.

This similar problem exists in, in differing quantities:
- Duty Navigation - Very prominently, making any kind of score in Duty Navigation essentially requires access to larger constellations. (Duty Navigation will have a detailed example in section 2.)
- Sailing (Complictions add scoring opportunities)
- Rigging (Higher rank adds bonuses that can be earned in addition to complications that [add scoring? - Can't actually confirm this. There's much less written about rigging.])
- Bilging (Complications add scoring opportunities.)
- Patching (Complications add scoring opportunities.)
- Shipwrighting (Missing size-5 pieces)
- Alchemistry (Complications add scoring opportunities.)
- Ironworking (Rum jug)
- Weaving (Complications add scoring opportunities.)
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 22, 2018 7:24:11 AM]
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Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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2: Distorted Incentives:

The structure of the curve and it's effect on the game pushes players wishing to triumph in the curve away from the primary gameplay loop (Which this.. [essay? report?] considers to be piloting of a vessel for trade or pillaging) to increase their standings in addition to several effects combined resulting in punishing players that try to be helpful.

We attempt to discuss these points - lay out the state of things as they are.

- Because increasing puzzle difficulty results in increased opportunities to score points, remaining on one station indefinitely is a naturally superior way to score points. Different puzzles may compound this switching penalty by having basis in executing large combos (Sailing) or in chains of successful activity (Carpentry).

- Actively participating in a vessel's activity with strong teamwork and communication can require people to swap stations for optimal effect. (A damaged, fully-ballasted ship is much better arranged with as many people switching to carpentry and bilgeing as possible, etc)

- Participating in an activity aboard an active ship can be harder than aboard a Navy vessel. (Cannons must be cleaned. Gunnery barrel rolls around. A bilge can be full of water.)

- Actual output of performance is scaled across all sessions of an activity, regardless of where they are performed or how long the duration is.

These points, taken as a given, lead us to the following potentially unhealthy aspects of the game.

- There is a strong incentive towards improving one's skill ranking aboard a Navy vessel, as they cannot be attacked and never require a player to change stations.
- There is an incentive towards focusing entirely on one's current activity to the exclusion of others.
- There is extremely little to no interaction between a player and the rest of the community when they are practicing skills aboard a Naval vessel.
- Performance results of all players (Including brand new players, per 1.) is curved according to all session results - including sessions in these optimal scenarios.
- Players playing the primary gameplay loop have a harder time getting the maximum performance from their ship because they are not puzzling in an optimal scenario yet their results are curved according to it.
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Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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2.1: Example - Duty Navigation

Duty Navigation is, in this analysis' opinion, the puzzle with the most pain points in the game at present. We want to present the state as is, as our example of distorted incentives.

Duty Navigation feels important.
- There is only one navigation station on any vessel of any size.
- A skilled navigator improves the functioning of every other duty station on the ship.
- A good navigation performance can increase the rate that targets spawn when pillaging or decrease the rate hostiles spawn when trading.

Duty Navigation suffers from the same kind of unstable equilibrium that Carpentry does.
- Duty Navigation scores primarily from completing constellations.
- Constellations increase in complexity as the challenge rating of the puzzle increases.
- Good performing navigatiors find it easier to score highly.
- Poor navigators find it harder to score well.

Duty Navigation suffers from possibly the worst dis-incentivization of any duty skill in the game.
- If the commander of the vessel is the navigator, they do not possess the increased sight range of either the navigation table or the crow's nest, and are thus less informed than if they are 'lazing' and are less able to make timely decisions on when to turn about or delay their progress.
- If the commander of the vessel is not the navigator, the navigator must perform a station switch at the onset of combat or provide no battle benefit to their ship, and station switching is dis-incentivized.
- Navigation suffers the same cascade/buildup to performance issues as Sailing, and thus switching off Navigation is further dis-incentivized because it takes time to spin up to good performance.
- Navigation progress is interrupted every time a vessel goes to Port or enters a battle - making scoring the highest Navigation scores the furthest departure from the core gameplay loop - charting as long a course as possible and avoiding all interaction with anything else in the game.
[Aug 22, 2018 7:25:30 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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3: Economics Impact

While the game models economic activity through production of primary resources, manufacturing, logistics, and intermediary processes, a point remains.

When production of skilled and expert labor is scored on a curve, and population shrinks, it introduces both a potential skilled labor shortfall as well as the possibility of an individual or group having a monopoly on the ability to perform labor.

This doesn't track with the rest of the economic system - as opposed to a specific quality of performance needing to be achieved, workers are in continual competition with one another to continually improve their own performance just to be considered the same skill level.

This effect synergizes with 1. and 2. - new players are unable to produce skilled labor and cannot participate in the broader economy without having to overtake the existing bar.
[Consider this Anecdotal, as my dataset's timeframe and amount is limited - Numbers based on general salaries observed on Obsidian versus PoE -> Doubloon exchange for a Labor badge and a net break even of ~27.7 an hour of salary tracks almost spot on with the average wage I saw offered for basic labor. In effect, a player only capable of offering basic labor, except in exceptional rush circumstances (Notably construction) does not, net, benefit from offering their labor to the market.]

With no incentive to initially be involved, the labor pool contracts, pushing skilled and expert participants out of their categories as the curve shrinks - leading to a shortage of labor on items like Rum, higher prices thereof, which can lead to reduced activity in the primary gameplay loop.

A labor shortage also introduces an unhealthy incentive to those who are capable of providing skilled and expert to create many alternates to also rank in the skill, which further increases the gap for new players being able to participate and the following potential monopoly impacts.
[Aug 22, 2018 7:26:44 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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4: Recommendations

It's neither the intention to harp about negatives without contributing anything positive, nor is it to demand far reaching, unimplementable changes - but to open a point of discussion and have something that people can point to as a jump-off point to further ideas.

The recommendations that will be put forward here take into consideration three factors.

- Implementability. The game is operating as, insofar as I am aware, a let's have people enjoy it as long as they can kind of maintenance mode. Anything recommended needs to be feasibly implementable, testable, and deployable without significant developer time.

- Not messing with revenue flows. For the same reasons as 1 - introducting instability into the finances of an operation can kill it entirely. Nothing suggested is going to touch keeping things fluid.

- Not infuriate the community. Anything put forth here needs to be something people would agree makes sense (Or, have already discussed the need of change towards and whose ideas will simply be reiterated. "This seems good." always applies.
-------

Rec 1: Change how the default puzzle difficulty is established :

The solution previously espoused by the community that I have seen is to: -Allow players to select their difficulty level from any they have reached.
Pros:
- Means nobody will ever be stuck at a difficulty too high for them to handle.
- Customizable and flexible, can tailor your experiance.
Cons:
- Potentially exploitable. Requires balancing testing.
- Probably requires new UI elements, or UI refactoring. Considering demographics this kind of new feature cannot be introduced as, say, a command line command. It'd need some kind of selector, slider bar, or star-chart, as well as documentation and updates to tutorials. It's non-trivial.
- Only means people won't be stuck if well-implemented and picked up on. Can lead to people setting things too high for themselves and being frustrated, or too low and ending up plateauing.

An alternate, proposed to try and keep in mind all the factors discussed throughout:
Change the basis for puzzle base difficulty to be exclusively on skill Experience
Pros:
-Implementable. Modify the query select to grab the Skill Experience instead of the Skill Ranking.
- Easy to explain. "The more you play a puzzle, the more elements you unlock. They can make the puzzle harder, but offer increased opportunity to score higher."
- Partial mitigation to ban avoidance.
- Partial mitigation to multiboxing/alts and one player having every entry on a top ranking board. (Opinions likely to vary on if this is a good thing.)
Cons:
- Introduces at least some element of grinding necessary to achieve optimal performance in puzzles. Debatable. May require refactoring how long it takes to gain experience levels if testing reveals things are too laborious.
- Requires testing, though of a different sort than the previous.
- Can lead to players having a puzzle too difficult for them to progress at all with. (At least one reason a ranking based default was chosen, to be certain; though there are still negative feedback loops in the other direction.)

In both circumstances, can lead to more reliable behavior in a shrinking playerbase. At some point the curve's sustainability breaks down.
-----------------------------------------

Rec 2: Quality of life and Duty Navigation

It should feel good to navigate. There probably /should/ be someone piloting the boat at all times in that exclusive station. Duty Navigation has a few issues regarding it's quality of life as a station and if it could be improved it is hoped to see most boats have someone manning the helm at all times.

Navigation like Gunnery
- Remove penalties from abandoning the helm.
- Save the state of the navigation board, like the state of the ships cannons is saved.
(If someone sent the ship off on the wrong course, whoever takes the wheel still has to right the course.)

- Allows the navigator to leave the station and look at the navigation chart for intelligence, or to swap to the crow's nest.
- A bit jankier than the other recommendation for this, but potentially less effort.
- Navigation compares a bit worse than 8bits/cannon/ship in terms of database space but not so much worse as to be beyond consideration. Certainly doesn't outweigh the cargo hold.

Navigation UI QoL
- Add to the UI when Navigating either
- The ship's charted course + surrounding ships, as though viewing the course of the ship in motion centered on the ship.
- Expand or zoom out the view to show the same distance from the ship as the crow's nest.

- Improved the ability for the ship's commander to navigate in and out of battle without having their target selection/avoidance abilities crippled.
- Worse on the implementation front than the first suggestion.
------------------------------------------------
Rec 3: Decouple results of skill performance with relative ranking comparison

Clearly the biggest proposal in the bunch. There's all kinds of specifics that could be said or debated here, all kinds of visions for what this looks like. My example looks something like this:

- Calibrate objective score performance markers such that the overwhelming majority of pure new players fall in-between the rankings of Booched-Good, the skilled player Great-Incredible, and make new categories for the best of the best in the world, give them a really good feeling to achieve- some rainbow pulsing sails, 'Awe-inspiring' or some fantastic moniker. The net effect on a ship still caps at incredible as it does now, and it's a fixed score. Some balance, struck, between letting your amazing, best of the best feel amazing and your new players not feel poorly about their play and quitting.

Clearly this is the most contentious, wide-sweeping, and difficult thing on the recommendation list, but I figured I'd at least broach the topic for discussion.

I came back to the game after a long absence, and it felt mostly the same thing I liked the last time I played it, but there was this weird stilted dissatisfying feeling to it. I spent time reading years of history and data posts to understand what was off, and having done that, figured, 'Eh, might as well talk about it. Worst someone says is 'Not interested''.
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 22, 2018 7:31:01 AM]
[Aug 22, 2018 7:28:11 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
hidemyhoney

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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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To fix most of your recommendations is to prevent players from using alts, alts are pretty much the biggest thing people use to exploit everything in the game other than hyper-ranking.

+1 to your gunning/dnav pros

Can you address distilling as well? that was the one puzzle you didn't fully cover. If you have ideas on it of course.
----------------------------------------
Support Sov! and Prayers for Marto your a good lad!

Yumisa is hawt. Thanks for avvie

People actually use 100s of alts and still play how shocking!

That's a great idea let's remove poker! Support this!
[Aug 23, 2018 12:48:55 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Darkings



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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Hello, so what I take from this post is that your main problem for people leaving is the difficult to score well.

An easy way to fix this ( coding wise ) is to make a little tweak on the algorithm, currently every score is based on top players, lets say for example there's 4 ultimate players in the top 10, this means there's enough players so that 4 players can achieve ultimate with x score.

This x score is based on a combination of incredibles and high excellents, and to achieve an incredible performance you must play equal or better than those 4 players. The rest of the scores are based of this incredible, witch means if some one is hugging the top page ( and is a beast at it ) good scores are pretty much screwed since they are based on the incredible performance.

My suggestion so that achieving at least good is doable for a new player is to make a patch on the algorithm, with this I mean take the legendary players to another code base and make the score ( below legendary ) be based on them.

With this I mean if you are grand-master or below your score is based on the legendary players ( way more than ultimate players, fix the population problem for a while ) so an excellent ( on the main code ) is an incredible ( on the second base ). Once they hit legendary they hit a freaking wall but at least it fixes the low score population.


So if you want skilled labor you can abuse the system and stay at gm below to get it in the easy way, and if you want the #1 then you have to work your ass out.
Kinda change the way we play but its worth a shot.



Now on player retention, I do not think this is a main one to new players, I do believe there's a lack of goals to set.
I mean a new player has no idea what to aim for, the tutorial needs a big revamp. I say boring puzzle mechanisms should be directed to a forum post and the tutorial should be a tease on what you can achieve in game.

Make a new tab on missions ( unrated sessions):

1st bnav any ship you want without the waiting time ( straight to the fight no spawn bs).

2nd take a portait with any clothes/fams/pets you want, this would be just a tease it won't be added to the pirate page.

3rd take them to a fancy house and let them furnish at will ( again just a tease)

..... you got the idea

Maybe advance missions to explain end game and the economy.




Navigation is indeed a problem but I think its better to create a new puzzle than overwriting nav itself.
Nav like gunnery would be way to easy to abuse ( hyper rank and competitions).
[Aug 23, 2018 3:11:53 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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To fix most of your recommendations is to prevent players from using alts, alts are pretty much the biggest thing people use to exploit everything in the game other than hyper-ranking.

+1 to your gunning/dnav pros

Can you address distilling as well? that was the one puzzle you didn't fully cover. If you have ideas on it of course.


You've actually given me two interesting things to talk about with this, and so I shall. I like analyzing things. This'll end up being two posts for organization's sake.

1) It's impossible to stop players from performing an allowed functional action in an online game. You could, in theory, attempt to /ban/ anyone who made more than one account. Consider the detection and enforcement of this and how much moderation time it would require. Consider how likely such a thing could cause false positives. I see stopping players from making alts to be completely and utterly impossible. One has to consider how to either reduce the issues the alts cause (Mitigation) or figure out what the underlying reasons and motivations as to why people would make multiple alts.

2) Since we can't just outright stop them, and making it harder to make a new account also has, unsurprisingly, a horrible effect on adding real new players, let's have a comprehensive look at alts and see what they do to things.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(The alt is simply made, it's Able at everything. It performs as a new player would.)
LOW SKILL Alts, Crafting:
I'd actually contend that, in at least one sense, these alts are a great win-win - when they're used for labor.
- An alt that is producing labor is sinking Doubloons, or is Subscribed. (While one /could/ theoretically puzzle repeatedly with alts on free days, the time/value of that expenditure, including finding new places to work as labor is consumed, seems rather low to me - but it's something to consider separately) This is good for the developers as a whole. They need to have doubloon sinks to keep operating.
It's /also/ good for the person purchasing the labor badge. Again, my references here are anecdotal, but they make economic sense - the minimum approximate value in Poe of a labor badge is almost spot on in tracking with the exchange rate of PoE to Doubloons. This makes sense - people would not go and spend doubloons on a labor badge if it returned less money to them than selling the doubloons in the open market. As such, the minimum basic labor offer that anybody has to offer in order to have employees is going to naturally adjust with the PoE-Doubloon exchange rate. (You can in fact look back at this historically through time - I saw it when reading old guides, like 'How to run a shop'. Labor was worth a lot less when doubloons cost less PoE.)
What this means is that somebody making an alt to run labor is win-win for the development team /and/ the person making the alt, as they're getting an economic benefit out of doing so worth at least a /little/ bit more than selling the doubloons.
(Exploit Prevention Aside: - while win-win, this is still something that can be /tremendously/ problematic if exploited en-masse on a doubloon server. Imagine someone going to the effort of, in a game with average playercounts in the hundreds, making NI labor alts for marginal gains. (IE, until they cannot find a single other place that consumes basic labor at more than it's worth in doubloon costs) This introduces a, relative-size-wise, /gigantic/ sink in the doubloons market (5*N/Month) and could outright crash a server's economy with all the knock on effects. This isn't something that'd be /worthwhile/ to do - you're making ~2PoE an hour more than just selling the doubloons, at a significant effort - but it's something someone could script something for or organize - it's worth looking out for one individual going so far as to set up a 100+ alt sweatshop and funneling all the money to one thing. Certainly enough of a negative effect to be something to reject. This is completely irrelevant on a subscription ocean - if someone wants to spend $15/month per 3 alts, all the power to em, that's a BIG win development wise.)


LOW SKILL Alts - Parlor Games:
Low ranking alts to hide skill level (Card Sharks, etc) - The 'Able' Swordsman offering duels for 50,000 is something I at least personally feel is kind of obvious. The wager itself is the confidence signal in essentially all respects. Unless one wants to get rid of the ranking system altogether or remove player-player wagering I think this is something that simply gets covered under "Never gamble something you're not willing to lose?"

Low ranking alts for automated tournaments -

In every tournament I have seen since returning to the game, entrants are seeded by skill level. What this means is that the highest skilled player in the game is matched against the lowest. This is a tournament bracket style designed to make most likely that the final match is between the two most-skilled opponents, and it's why it's one of the overwhelmingly most common tournament styles in real life.
If you are Ultimate, and enter a seeded tournament as a new able, your seeded opponents are the /highest skilled ones/ in the tournament. This means that they're most likely your best matchup and the one you are most likely to lose to, only instead of fighting over 1st and 2nd place you're now fighting for 12th.
If the seeding is random - the ranking is irrelevant.

Alts seem to have no real effect on parlor games at all that aren't clear, blatant blatant terms of service violations in the first place.

LOW SKILL Alts: Duty Puzzles

Essentially identical in every respect to them being a swabbie, based on my understanding of all the mechanics. If they're mediocre at everything the only actual effect they have is to pull down the skill curve (Which is something the initial prospectus thinks might not be appropriate for a downscaling game in the first place.)

Conversely- what I call a High Skill Alt - A brand new character made after a player is already quite experienced at a puzzle and is able to perform at a high caliber.

HIGH SKILL Alts, Crafting:

Because lacking experience means there are less sessions to consider in the rolling average of skill - it is easier to acquire a high rank if one has less experience.

Thus, there is a clear incentive for someone experienced at the game to create an alt to take advantage of the fact they can place highly on the curve because it is /easier/ to get their alt up to match their current skill level than it was for them to get their main's rank initially.

Is this problematic? Absolutely. The crafting puzzles are /not/ part of the main gameplay loop. (Again, I consider that being being on a ship, doing piratey things.) The crafting puzzles can only be played for free once a week, or for a sub or part of sub.
Drastically less people play the crafting puzzles than the duty puzzles, and this means that all effects of a curve based performance are magnified.

It's more than possible for a single skilled individual to make two or three accounts worth of crafting alts and utterly spike the curve for an entire ocean with their performance if they wanted to. They'd not even have to spend anything.

However, is this a problem caused by alternate accounts, or by the fact that their performance would be added to the pegboard by which all other performances are measured?

I purport that high skilled crafting alts are merely a symptom of the previously stated distorted ranking incentives, and, to avoid repetition, this is also my conclusion for high skilled duty puzzle alts as well - the curve ranking incentivizes making alts - they are a symptom, not a cause of problems.

I'll take up distillery as a second post - I've clearly been writing this long enough there's more responses.
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[Edit 2 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 5:49:16 AM]
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patgangster

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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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Hello, so what I take from this post is that your main problem for people leaving is the difficult to score well.

An easy way to fix this ( coding wise ) is to make a little tweak on the algorithm, currently every score is based on top players, lets say for example there's 4 ultimate players in the top 10, this means there's enough players so that 4 players can achieve ultimate with x score.

This x score is based on a combination of incredibles and high excellents, and to achieve an incredible performance you must play equal or better than those 4 players. The rest of the scores are based of this incredible, witch means if some one is hugging the top page ( and is a beast at it ) good scores are pretty much screwed since they are based on the incredible performance.

My suggestion so that achieving at least good is doable for a new player is to make a patch on the algorithm, with this I mean take the legendary players to another code base and make the score ( below legendary ) be based on them.


(Also @ Part 1:
 
However, so far as I am aware, uniquely to this game, not just their rank, but every single potential action a new player can take towards influencing the game world, and their feedback of play, is weighted against the very best player in their entire server, from the very beginning they step into the game.


Assuming I'm reading the posts correctly: I'm fairly sure this already is at least somewhat the case. Ranks are based on a percentage system (top 1% is ultimate, top 5% is legendary, top 10% is Grand-Master). When you're GM, for rank purposes, you are not being directly compared to the ultimates. I believe duty reports work in a similar way (To score a good, you need to beat x% of people's duty reports. How well those that score incredibles do is not very relevant for that).

That said, the people that tend to stick around to this game are the better puzzlers, and the curve has gotten more difficult over time. Even low-mid rank puzzlers tend to be quite decent at the puzzles.

[[I re-read this after writing my post and I think I'm a bit wrong about how I read it. At the same time, I don't think a new player should expect to score this high. If adjustments can make it easier for these players to do fine/good/sometimes excellent that would be fine.]]

 
Part 1.1: Negative feedback loop

This part is very true. While the concept of "The puzzles start out easier and get more difficult as you get better" sounds good, scoring decently at these lower level boards can be near-impossible on some puzzles (As your posts point out, carpentry and dnav especially suffer from this.)

Most of these posts look good, but I'll throw some text at things I don't (fully) agree with or have points that should be considered.
 
Part 2:
- There is a strong incentive towards improving one's skill ranking aboard a Navy vessel, as they cannot be attacked and never require a player to change stations.


Partially disagree. While this does result in you keeping your star level and granting constant puzzling without being attacked, you do have to restart your station every time you reach an island, and you start with a score of 0 again whenever the ship sets sail. Especially on puzzles like sailing which can take a while to get going, it would be better for your rank to puzzle in a place you can get stat adjustments/"resets" that don't clear out your indicator, such as a pillage.

 
- There is an incentive towards focusing entirely on one's current activity to the exclusion of others.
- There is extremely little to no interaction between a player and the rest of the community when they are practicing skills aboard a Naval vessel.


Fully agree. I do think the existance of naval boats and the little interaction is ok though. It gives players a place to play puzzles more casually and with the option to leave anytime without it potentially hurting others (by having to leave during battle for example) and it's a good place to learn without potentially hurting a ship you'd job on.


 
- Performance results of all players (Including brand new players, per 1.) is curved according to all session results - including sessions in these optimal scenarios.

True. Not sure how well you'd fix this without either resulting in players using more alts ("this new player curve is really nice, I score a lot higher here!") or players feeling like they got a lot worse / punished for having played, because their scores got worse.

 
2.1: dnav stuff

Pretty much all true.
 
Part 3: labor

Don't know enough about this.

 
Part 4
Rec 1: Change how the default puzzle difficulty is established


-Allow players to select their difficulty level from any they have reached.
Solid idea, suggested many times before as you said.

UI stuff: I imagine you could make the 'stars' at your puzzle clickable. Greyed out unfilled stars could be added for levels that were previously unlocked but you have not reached. You could click a star to jump to that difficulty level after your next board clear (or, at the start of the puzzle if no moves have been made yet)

 
Rec 2: Dnav.


It should indeed feel good to navigate (and I think in terms of 'how the reward feels' it does, the effects of dnav are major enough that most pillages do want dnavvers.

I don't like the idea of saving board between different navigators. Maybe save a pirate's own last board, but I would not want to deal with being given someone else's board, especially when there's a potential large difference in skill level (so it could be either a much more, or less complex board).

UI QOL sounds good.
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[Aug 23, 2018 5:14:09 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Hello, so what I take from this post is that your main problem for people leaving is the difficult to score well.


Hi there! Thanks for your commentary - I'm going to reply to you as well, and I might try to combine this with my distillery example. (You also raise a valid criticism which I might put into a separate post.)

I'll touch super briefly on implementability of your idea - there's nothing wrong with the intent - it too would solve the issues I present - but I think there might be some problems with what you suggest, and to address them I'll have to get into math.

First - I'm going to very quickly touch on one part.

 
My suggestion so that achieving at least good is doable for a new player is to make a patch on the algorithm, with this I mean take the legendary players to another code base and make the score ( below legendary ) be based on them.


Depending upon how the underlying codebase, and, more dependantly, the database, is structured, this is anywhere from 'Not so bad' to 'Completely impossible'.

I'm going to assume a very simple relational database structure and code that almost certainly doesn't grasp all the nuances as a bit of a best case scenario.

When a player scores, their puzzle score (Some actual numeric number) is going to be compared to a range of scores from a cache stored on the server. The number range in this cache is going to be dynamically constructed every so often by the server, where the server queries the database where player data is held. Every time the player completes a puzzle section, that sessions score, normalized for time, is added to the end of their rolling average score. We don't need to touch a players individual scores, we only need to look up their current 'average' to know how they perform.

We take all of these rolling averages (Select RollingAverage_PuzzleBilge from Players [Again, super simplistic]) and compute from them what their distribution is.

I expect, again, assumptions, since I'm not looking at code, just the results of code, that it's /supposed/ to look something like this:



Where the vertical axis is the number of players, and the horizontal axis is their score. (This image is a normal distribution, fixed to the notion that there are not negative scores, only a minimum score of 0, because it's the most common way probabilities tend to turn up.)

From this distribution of scores, the game either:

A) Splits it up into differently sized chunks on a linear basis- which looks something like this:
Booched: 0 - 1000
Fine: 1000 - 2000
Great: 3000 - 4000
Excellent 5000 - 6000
Incredible 6000 - The Highest Single Score ever achived

Where the ranges are equally divided among all scores OR

Something like
Booched: Bottom 10%
Fine: 20 %-50%
Great: 50% - 80%
Excellent - 80% - 90%
Incredible - 90+%
(Percentages can vary, I'm literally just throwing some number up there)
Where the scores are matched to a percentile range.

This range of score goals is saved on the server, and as a player puzzles, their running average score is compared to this range for things like how sparkly their indicator is.

When their session ends, their running average is updated, as is their rank, if appropriate, with the new information.

Implementing the idea in this example code system is /easy/ - you just change the query that builds the score range-
(Select RollingAverage_PuzzleBilge from Players) - and it becomes
(Select RollingAverage_PuzzleBilge from Players WHERE PuzzleRank_PuzzleBilge < [InternalRankDefinitionForLegendary])

The problem with this idea, math wise, is if you have a cutoff where scoring is counted - you're basically going to make a big upward spiky bubble on that curve. You mention it yourself - people hit a wall - but what happens in almost any way I can conceive this code base, is that grandmaster wall becomes a NEW wall on the distribution that is now cutoff.

In essence, instead of struggling to hit grandmaster, people would instead struggle to hit renowned - as the grandmaster rank would fill with people unable to hit the legendary threshold.

What I argue instead is that instead of building the scores from the players averages, one just hard defines what the categories are. You can describe this in score or even use game terms.

Here's my example for Distillery, in game terms. Keep in mind this reduces to a number inside the game, which is how the devs would balance it. This isn't necessarily the precise numbers I'd recommend using (I don't have access to how people perform enough to come remotely close to making a good balance) but are here to give a visualization to the idea.

Booched: The player sent up 1 black piece for every 2 white pieces, burned more than 50% of the pieces, etc.
Fine: The player sent up 1 black piece for every 3 white pieces, burned less than 10 white pieces.
Good: The player sent up 1 black piece for every 4 white pieces, burned less than 5 white pieces.
Excellent: The player sent up no burned pieces at all, and burned less than 3 white pieces. The player sent up several completely white columns.
Incredible: The player sent up nearly all of their columns as completely white. Most were in a chain.
Amazing: The entire board is in a CC of at least 9.
And, to make the top one something piratey right off the cuff of my head
Blimey!: CC^12 and up.

It doesn't matter how anyone else performs the puzzle - you just have fixed score goals. You peg quality of labor provided to the running rank average of the last X sessions very very similarly as before - you pick a quality level and if you've been puzzling that well recently you deliver skilled or expert labor.

The server ultimates are going to be people that constantly nail that top rating, every session. There's no reason to change that, or to punish people trying to climb the skill ladder. You want people to feel good for doing well. But you don't have to pin scores to anything but fixed numbers.

This isn't putting down scoring on a curve. Scoring on a curve is an /intelligent/ way to design a multiplayer game - the game will balance itself based on the scores of the players and you, as a developer, do not have to constantly figure out what the balancing point should be, don't have to nerf or change or add rankings.

But - the problem, at least, the simplest way I can say what appears to be what I see -

The game is trying to smoosh:



so that it looks like



Not just in rank - where it's fine to have it curved - but in actual /functional output/ - which is going to hit everybody left of the peak the hardest.

(Images issue done and dusted thanks to patgangster)
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[Edit 7 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 6:21:44 AM]
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patgangster

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(Please abide me while I figure out how to properly peg images to this forum board. The links are followable and the images are there if you try to go to them, but they aren't displaying. Imgur being https and the image tool expecting http might be it. If any subsequent responder feels like following those images and slapping them in a follow up post it'd be appreciated.)


Link the image directly, not the page the image is on. right-click it on imgur, copy image location.

Should look like " https://i.imgur.com/4hkcyIx.jpg " rather than " https://imgur.com/a/EuhP0Ey "
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[Aug 23, 2018 6:17:33 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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(Please abide me while I figure out how to properly peg images to this forum board. The links are followable and the images are there if you try to go to them, but they aren't displaying. Imgur being https and the image tool expecting http might be it. If any subsequent responder feels like following those images and slapping them in a follow up post it'd be appreciated.)


Link the image directly, not the page the image is on. right-click it on imgur, copy image location.

Should look like " https://i.imgur.com/4hkcyIx.jpg " rather than " https://imgur.com/a/EuhP0Ey "


Thanks kindly, problem solved.
[Aug 23, 2018 6:19:58 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Navigation is indeed a problem but I think its better to create a new puzzle than overwriting nav itself.
Nav like gunnery would be way to easy to abuse ( hyper rank and competitions).


Addressing this specific, 100% valid criticism about Nav like gunnery, because I've also thought a bit since I posted it and I think my initial thoughts about how cannons worked might be wrong.

The state of a cannon (Empty, any combination of powder/wadding/shot) can be saved as a single 8 bit number (Unless I futzed my math somewhere) - my initial thoughts were that it would be drastically bloaty to track each navigation board for each pirate in a database because then it'd have to key- but in retrospect, it's probably in a server cache.

I'm not sure HOW much a burden it'd be saving multiple nav board per pirate per ship. It's unlikely more than a handful of pirates would navigate in a given voyage and it wouldn't scale up with ship size like cannons do - but it's not trivial.

There might be more math while I work out how burdensome the suggestion actually is in practice. There's compression gains that can be made in storing the board state since you can't have triplets or greater. That won't be coming for a bit no matter what.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Also, completely separate to this - you can fix gunnery state abuse fairly simply.

- Divide score for filling a cannon into three parts.

-The player gets 1 point for putting powder in the first slot.
-The player gets 1 point for putting wadding in the second slot.
-The player gets 1 point for putting the shot in the last slot.

-The player gets no points for incorrect fills to any other positions.
-Flushing the cannon while it is partially filled reduces your score by the same amount it was worth when added. If you are flushing an incorrectly loaded cannon, there is no penalty (Except time). If you are flushing a 2/3rds correctly loaded cannon, you're actively hurting progress, and get a -2. (This is necessary to prevent abuse and the weird incentive to say, mass fill with powder and flush the cannon. You want to reward the player with points for progress and penalize for anti-progress.)

Removes entirely the incentive to preload 2/3rds of the cannon full on one character and load the shot on the other while, insofar as I am aware, not affecting the puzzle's scoring in any other situation except potentially better equalizing navy gunning and pillage gunning.

-----------------------------------------
Alternatively
.75 for powder,
.75 for wadding,
1.5 for final shot load - as getting the cannon live is the most important part. There's a balancing act between making pre-loading worthless and making it be valid scorewise to only partially load cannons leaving the final shot load to someone else.
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[Edit 2 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 6:42:14 AM]
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patgangster

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What I argue instead is that instead of building the scores from the players averages, one just hard defines what the categories are. You can describe this in score or even use game terms.


They did this with foraging in the Cursed Isles (it rates you based on chests foraged in the timeframe, small box = 1, medium = 2, large = 3). It uses non-standard terms ("asleep" for a score of 0-2, to "swift" at 12-14, and "frenetic" for 15 and up.

This worked well in the past but I'm not sure how well it has aged. The scale is quite out of touch with how well players perform (There are quite a few players who score an average of over 25, and scores of 35 and 36 have been reached.) There are players taking screenshots of the duty reports and have written programs to read these screnshots go see people's actual scores as the text the game gives you no longer gives you any indication of whether you performed well or not. Your idea of adding more "above incredible" duty reports would combat that though.
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[Aug 23, 2018 6:55:41 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Kyura94

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Zenithar wrote: 
(trancated. example of predefined scoring categories in Distilling)

It doesn't matter how anyone else performs the puzzle - you just have fixed score goals. You peg quality of labor provided to the running rank average of the last X sessions very very similarly as before - you pick a quality level and if you've been puzzling that well recently you deliver skilled or expert labor.

The server ultimates are going to be people that constantly nail that top rating, every session. There's no reason to change that, or to punish people trying to climb the skill ladder. You want people to feel good for doing well. But you don't have to pin scores to anything but fixed numbers
I just want to point out the irony in this. It's nice (in the purest meaning of the word) to let the less-skilled players see better-sounding words in their duty report or labour output. Your example would achieve just that, but you won't maintain the integrity of "you want people to feel good for doing well".

Take it from someone casually at the highest ranks of Obsidian's Distil. I can't speak for others, but a huge part of the "feel good" aspect is knowing that maybe 80% of the ocean can't produce Expert, and a larger 90% has never seen an Incredible.

I don't wish to put you down for wanting to help the less-skilled, but it's hard to preserve the experience for those on the opposite end.

---

Pat's point about the CI Forage also highlights the problem with predefined categories. You'd constantly need to update the categories as the playerbase's skill level shifts, lest you end up with the situation now where Frenetic is borderline trivial. At that point, it wouldn't be far from the scoring curve applied everywhere else.
----------------------------------------
Ryuken on Obsidian (active) and Emerald (not really)
I made an in-depth Distilling guide here, and a guns one somewhere.
I gave Obsidian their Owls c:
[Aug 23, 2018 7:05:35 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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I just want to point out the irony in this. It's nice (in the purest meaning of the word) to let the less-skilled players see better-sounding words in their duty report or labour output. Your example would achieve just that, but you won't maintain the integrity of "you want people to feel good for doing well".

Take it from someone casually at the highest ranks of Obsidian's Distil. I can't speak for others, but a huge part of the "feel good" aspect is knowing that maybe 80% of the ocean can't produce Expert, and a larger 90% has never seen an Incredible.

I don't wish to put you down for wanting to help the less-skilled, but it's hard to preserve the experience for those on the opposite end.

---

Pat's point about the CI Forage also highlights the problem with predefined categories. You'd constantly need to update the categories as the playerbase's skill level shifts, lest you end up with the situation now where Frenetic is borderline trivial. At that point, it wouldn't be far from the scoring curve applied everywhere else.


What you describe is the classic optimization problem we face - do we try and make things more accessible, to ease new adopters to being able to move into the game, or do you ensure you preserve what people have quite rightfully earned as their place? (When you introduce new high level content, do you make it easier to level up new characters? One can look at almost every MMO, they all have to walk this tightrope - too far on the one hand and you lose your old players, too far on the other, you lose your new players.)

But this dichotomy is not a zero-sum game. Unfortunately, circumstances being as they are, I certainly tried to constrain my recommendations to changes that could be wrought by a small team, trying to extract the maximum amount of improvement from small changes carrying on.

But what I'd actually like to say is probably broader.

For starters - players hopping into the game should, ideally, be able to engage with any part of it not constrained to 'high levels' or elite content. To use an MMORPG for example - the new player, appropriately leveled, should be able to go to any on-level zone and do things, be able to go through dungeon content, etc, but probably not the game's equivalent of raids.

I would apply that same thing to economics - anything basic and functional should be achiveable by all players, anything cosmetic, or especially prestige, most certainly not.

What does that mean, in my opinion, for Puzzle Pirates?
In my (yes, opinion, you can certainly disagree) opinion, anybody new that starts playing in the game should probably be able to hop straight into anything casually with the exception of (Things that should be /earned/ because they convey variable levels of prestige):

- Limited Edition Ships
- Flag royalty, island governorship
- Captaincy and senior officer status of a crew
- Being on a leaderboard (Top 10, top 100, regardless - a place must be earned)
- Participate in high-stakes contests (High wager parlor games, sinking engagements)
- Debatable, owning a non-stall shop.

For the most part this is generally true - however, there are certainly casualties of the curve.

To keep on the distilling track, Fine Rum is it's casualty. It is quite literally half as expensive to purchase the same effective-operating amount of Swill compared to rum, due to the unavailability of expert labor to produce it with. If storage space was /significantly/ tighter across ships across the board the space savings would catch up somewhat (Fine rum SHOULD be the most expensive rum because it takes up less volume.), but as it stands even after being on a six hour pillage on the smallest ship size I've not been on a ship with the cargo capped.

I say to you - your statement is entirely valid, but what about the following?

If your distillery is so good, the game calls the performance 'Almighty' instead of 'Incredible', and not even 5% of the ocean can attain it (even less than the previous 10%), does the prestige diminish, or increase?
The amount of categories is completely arbitrary - we are not constrained to what we have, if we set objective goals we can certain add new ones when the need arises, or re-calibrate, if we have balanced far too poorly.

If the matter is being rewarded for expert labor - again, given the ability to keep improving and adding content to the game, I would say - are we limited to only 3 tiers of labor?

Of course not!

Again, a spur of the moment notion, but:

Distilling:

Requiring fine rum and Master level labor, further refining into Purified Spirits.

Combined with a Watertight Barrel from a Blacksmith (Wood, Iron, potentially some kind of sealing wax), a Waterproof Wick (From a Weaver), and some master Class Alchemicals to create a Waterproofed Bomb - a consumable item deployable by a ship in battle navigation to the port, starboard, or aft. Works exactly how the other one already implemented in the game does - remains in the water as a navigational hazard, does a large amount of damage if run into.

Too expensive for day to day use, and thus prestige or niche - check.
Has actual uses for top-tier players? (Blockade area control, absolutely - check)

It's a quick 5 minute example but I hope it puts my full vision into view - New players vs Old players is a balancing act, but it's also not something anybody has to lose - everybody can win in refinements.

Edits: Correcting the flow of some sentences.
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[Edit 2 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 8:20:39 AM]
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Immediately spitballed idea in my head for

"Low impact implement-ability, added reward to the highest skill bracket"

Whenever a Pirate concludes a puzzle session in which they post the highest-yet recorded score for a puzzle, it creates a (Boat? Archipelago? Ocean? I don't know how often this happens or if it'd be spammy) wide announcement broadcasting this fact to the game at large.

"X has delivered a phenomenal performance, breaking new ground and setting the new standard for the ultimate master in the field of Y!"

You can reward raw scoring sessions, continuous streaks of performance of the highest-caliber (Highest scoring streak of 40 Fantabulous in a row!) - and, provided one has a careful understanding of how spammy it is, does it impact the low end of players, or the new players? Does it have any knock on effects on economics or enjoyability of the game?

Not one bit.

Does it feel good to be told you're the absolute best? Oh yeah.
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 8:28:31 AM]
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Darkings



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@pat

 
When you're GM, for rank purposes, you are not being directly compared to the ultimates


I have to disagree on this one, the incredible score is based on how well the ultimates do. With that in mind we can agree is way faster to achieve GM with incredible average than with excellents.
I based this on bnav scores since its easier to see, for example I achieved #1 bnav with less than 150 battles on my main with orange/red spawns, and currently I'm #2 with green spawns with over 500 battles ( I will post more data when I reach #1 ) .
On bnav example you can see the difference between scoring high excellents and scoring incredibles, both are capable of achieving #1 but one is way quicker.

Now to address why I think good is affected by incredibles, again bnav example,
speed and score are two big factors.
Lets say the ultimates are averaging 10 mins max-0.5 ( this is incredible) .
So we can trow some numbers here just so its visual
excellent would be in between 10 mins and 12 mins with a range of 5.5-6.5 score difference from max-0.5 ( in a sloop 7-0.5 = 6.5)
good would be 12 mins to 14 mins with a range of 4.5-5.5.

Now lets say ultimates are doing 15 minutes and max-2 = 5
excellent now are 15 min to 17 and a range of 4 to 5
good drops to 17 min to 19 with a score range of 3 to 4.

That's more ore less what happens with bnav scores across oceans.


I'm assuming the rest of the puzzles work in the same way, so good is affected by how well the ultimate does. But I could be wrong I give you that.


@zenithar

 
In essence, instead of struggling to hit grandmaster, people would instead struggle to hit renowned - as the grandmaster rank would fill with people unable to hit the legendary threshold.


The way I tried to explain is that GM can achieve inc and excellent way easier than legendary ( since the score is downgraded exc(based on ults) = inc ( based on leg), good(bou)=exc(bol),.... ).

So in my way is way easier to achieve legend the problem is staying at legend since its base on ults, the same applies to ren - its wasy easier to achieve GM, so the only wall is the leg one.


But then it will affect the sense of achievement that ryuken mention, and I do see his point ( its a valid one )


*edit*
example on the leg wall
lets say Gm needs 10 sessions of inc to reach legend, once it reach legend it will score a good ( example: lets say the inc on GM its a good on Ults ) and will screw the 11 sessions average so there's no possible way to create a Gm wall since they will easily achieve legend and if they don't adjust the play style they will screw their average.

Now that I'm trying to create flaws on this theory I might agree it will affect the % of legendary players (if they all stay leg and wont play more) which will affect the ultimate list making it easier to achieve.... yeahhh risk my theory it wont work long time.
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Darkings at Aug 23, 2018 9:23:25 AM]
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patgangster

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I'm not sure if this is going to make sense or not because I'm not quite sure how to explain it either, but ultimate does not equal incredible. The calculation is at least somewhat different.

Sources from personal experience:

- Carpenting on emerald, on a CI. I would occasionally jump up to ultimate carpentry (both ocean-wide and arch) after carpenting for ~15 minutes without hitting incredible on either of the duty reports I'd see.

- At times when Ryuken dominates the gunning board on Obsidian by filling the top 10 with his alts, a lower-end incredible performance in gunning is not good enough to raise your rank to ultimate, and it's not unsurprising when I see my rank drop to legendary without scoring below incredible on the duty report at any point (generating a DR every few minutes, with the navy.)

That said, they're close and I believe they typically don't stray far from each other. In most situations, assuming they're equal works out fine.

...This doesn't really explain anything, but I was typing it out after you said "the incredible score is based on how well the ultimates do" so you get to read it. hope you enjoyed.


------------------------------

leg wall / gm wall / etc:
Obviously, higher scores raise your rank faster. Let's take 3000 as the maximum possible score, and an arbitrary rating of 2300 being required for renowned (renowned is confirmed to be the top 15% of pirates), and is the requirement for expert labor, so I'd imagine the point where good jumps to excellent is close to where master jumps to renowned. (or maybe not quite, if I remember it right, not all excellents are expert labor?)

Scoring 2600s is going to raise you to above 2300 faster than scoring 2400s is. Whether the top 1% scores 2800s (this means your 2600s are excellent) or 2500s (this means your 2600s are incredible) should not be relevant to how quickly you pass 2300. If enough people get good enough to move the barrier to renowned up past 2300, that's when that gets harder.

------------------------------

I have always assumed that DRs work on a similar scale to how standings work in that you're compared to # of the ocean (and the DR becoming more difficult to get higher scores on as the average score of puzzlers on the ocean goes up seems to suggest so too), for example (once again with arbitrary number, the statistics behind DR scores were never posted as far as I'm aware) "your puzzling session outperformed 85% of puzzling sessions" meaning "excellent" and "your puzzling session outperformed 65% of puzzling sessions" meaning "good".

The stuff about DRs is still all just how I assumed it works though. I'd have no idea how to prove whether the way I think it works or the way you do is correct.
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TriplePat, Emerald.
[Aug 23, 2018 10:06:21 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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The stuff about DRs is still all just how I assumed it works though. I'd have no idea how to prove whether the way I think it works or the way you do is correct.


(If you both are /really really curious/, you can arrange for a science experiment! They're always fun.)

An example way to test your different perspectives.

Find a puzzle with
-a very low number of people who play it (Makes figuring out numbers easier)
-one person who /does/ play it, who can consistently hit ultimate rank/incredible performance and feels like experimenting

What you can do is then compare puzzle results before and after they crush the puzzle's leaderboard while collecting data.

The way this is structured makes me say the best puzzle to do it on would probably be Distilling - because it's fairly simple to measure how well you did objectively.

You can see what, say, CC^8 nets with 1 Ult vs 10-alts-worth-of-Ult. You could get even more data if your Ult-data-provider was also willing to just throw together an alt and have it do consistent great or mediocre runs just for data.

You'd be looking for patterns of duty report correlations with exact rank that someone settles to or not. Maybe some kind of scatter plot?

(Was this post particularly necessary? Prooobably not. But experimentation is just always a good thing to encourage.)

-----------------

In any case, I think you're both pretty much on the same page overall. The precise correlation between duty report and rank is relative and pegged to a distribution, most likely normal.
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[Edit 2 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 10:34:48 AM]
[Aug 23, 2018 10:30:37 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Grinfish

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My apologies, I haven't read *everything* posted as yet, but I caught a discussion about use of alts in relation to score issues, and something popped into my head.

Declaration of (some) root causes:

Each YPP/Steam account can have 3 pirates.
It is possible and acceptable for a player to have multiple accounts.
Each active pirate's puzzle standings count towards the scoring "curve".

Symptom:

A player can have many alts over several accounts at the highest puzzle standing level, forcing other players down the score "curve", limiting their advancement in standings to the point that a repeatedly well-performed puzzle session may not see a reward of advancement in the pirate's standing at that puzzle.

Proposal:

Instead of taking all active pirates' standings into the score system from each player account, only accept the highest single standing of the 3 pirates possible on an account. This could be implemented at a fixed level, e.g. Renowned/Grand Master and above.

Anticipated effect: Up to 2/3rds of the highest-standing pirates (on assumption of all 3 pirates on an account being of similar high standing) no longer represent directly in the score "curve", giving a closer-to-truthful representation of the Player's ability level as opposed to the number of pirates they have at that level.

At the same time, the continued inclusion of the lower standing levels from all pirates on an account maintains a thicker "bottom end" to the curve, thus increasing the opportunities for players to break into the higher standing levels (those allowing unpuzzled Expert labour) that have previously been over-occupied by alts.

It would still be necessary to puzzle well to attain a higher ongoing standing after a short period of adjustment as the new score history builds.

Side-effects: Although this may allow players' pirates to reach higher standings, it may not enable the ability to actively puzzle a higher immediate duty/labour report (Excel/Incred) on completion of a puzzle. There may be other unidentified consequences (sudden en-masse expert labour oversupply), but some eventual normalisation could be expected.

Theoretically the modification could be countered by opening 3 x the amount of YPP/Steam accounts, however the amount of account/password-switching required to maintain all pirates could be seen as a deterrent to attempting to single-handedly dominate the higher standings.


Comment: This isn't designed to target attaining Increds, or to get people up to Ultimate. It's simply to enable pirates of a higher level of skill to reach a puzzle standing where their pirate info screen shows they are noticeably above-average, and that enables them to attain expert labour at an appropriate point in their development.
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[Aug 23, 2018 10:38:50 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Laryena1



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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- Carpenting on emerald, on a CI. I would occasionally jump up to ultimate carpentry (both ocean-wide and arch) after carpenting for ~15 minutes without hitting incredible on either of the duty reports I'd see.

I'm not sure if this is going to make sense or not because I'm not quite sure how to explain it either, but ultimate does not equal incredible. The calculation is at least somewhat different.

At times when Ryuken dominates the gunning board on Obsidian by filling the top 10 with his alts, a lower-end incredible performance in gunning is not good enough to raise your rank to ultimate, and it's not unsurprising when I see my rank drop to legendary without scoring below incredible on the duty report at any point (generating a DR every few minutes, with the navy.)
The only thing that really matters is the score that you set for the duty report. The excellent you got carping on the CI might have been an incredible on another day. The various duty report indicators just represent a scoring range, but this range can change from day to day or even in realtime (don't quote me on that!) depending on how well the top players do.
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Sen
[Aug 23, 2018 10:52:22 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Darkings



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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- Carpenting on emerald, on a CI. I would occasionally jump up to ultimate carpentry (both ocean-wide and arch) after carpenting for ~15 minutes without hitting incredible on either of the duty reports I'd see.


Ya I got #1 patch without hitting incredible, and that's why I say high excellents count to reach ult, I'm assuming 15 minutes are 1 break and the island entry right?
Ok this is my visual score inc= 3 points, high excellent= 0.5 points, normal excellent= 0 points, low excellent = -0.5 points

You made 0.5 points on that session ( this is more obvious when you speed token patch 2 rows and achieve excellent = 0.5 and its enough to get #1 ) .


The way I see top 10 every time you leave a session you get a score from 3 to a freaking booch and move up or down accordingly to the other player scores, that's why some times its easier to go up from rank3 to rank1 than from rank 6 to rank 4, the scores are to close.


 
and it's not unsurprising when I see my rank drop to legendary without scoring below incredible on the duty report at any point (generating a DR every few minutes, with the navy.)



This one its easy to explain, if you fill 8*4 cannons in between duty reports you will get incredible even if 2*4 of those cannons are filled with low excellent and that's the issue its screws the average on the ranking but not in the duty report.


 
"your puzzling session outperformed 85% of puzzling sessions" meaning "excellent" and "your puzzling session outperformed 65% of puzzling sessions" meaning "good".


Ya at first I thought like that, but how can you explain this:
I logged on jade and did the learn sails, did 2 stars and got ultimate but not incredible. (same with guns )
I say there's more than that linear thought, I think the period of 9 days ( dormant players get off the scoring curve ) is needed to calculate what's incredible and only then we can achieve incredible, or maybe tomorrow I can get incredible since the scoring curve is updated every day at 11h Lisbon time.

Either way I'm not saying DRs don't work like standings, they kinda do but they take time to adjust, I'm inclined to say every day at 11h they update accordingly to the ult list and the 9 days have some affect on it.
Basically more ults(different player)= easy incredibles, less ults = harder incredibles.
And the harder the inc the harder the good or excellent.
[Aug 23, 2018 11:03:47 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
patgangster

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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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The only thing that really matters is the score that you set for the duty report. The excellent you got carping on the CI might have been an incredible on another day. The various duty report indicators just represent a scoring range, but this range can change from day to day or even in realtime (don't quote me on that!) depending on how well the top players do.


Yes, but how well the top players do adjusts the range of what score is legendary and what score is ultimate as well.

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Zenithar's Experiment thingy:

Sure, sounds doable. I could probably do that by gunning on a dead ocean hey look meridian, you have a purpose and intentionally waiting at the end of the boards with the navy to get set times (for example 1 minute / board). Not sure if I'll bother putting in that much effort at any point though.

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Darkings: Don't fully agree with your visual score scale (mainly because there's also variations of inc, and I don't feel like high exc = ult always) but it's a good guideline. Not sure how to explain the jade thing, low population oceans are weird. Maybe DRs are based on "last [large number here] of performances" rather than "last 10 days" to prevent completely dead puzzles on dead oceans to only grant booched or incredible, but otherwise follow a similar scale?
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TriplePat, Emerald.
[Aug 23, 2018 11:24:07 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Zenithar



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Re: Addressing New & Old Player Retention & A bit of analysis on community-discussed issues Reply to this Post
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My apologies, I haven't read *everything* posted as yet, but I caught a discussion about use of alts in relation to score issues, and something popped into my head.

(I should mention to folks please don't take offense at me partially-quoting... I seem to be typing a lot in this thread and so I don't want to make my reply giant.

I'll respect everybody by not repeating myself and just quickly summarize overall thoughts on everything but implementability, which I can contribute something new to.

- Addresses part of the issues we've discussed, but is treating symptoms instead of root causes. (See section Distorted Incentives) Alts versus Underlying Reasons there are alts.

Implementation - Using the simplified database model in my head, this is non-trivially impactful on speed/size. I don't know how this plays out in reality, but here's my example.

Coming in from building the reference in the server cache to how performance is rated (See my.. second responding post - the one with distribution charts)

Select RollingAverage_PuzzleBilge from Players
is what we seem to have now.

This goes from being understandable to anyone in plain english to something requiring a second query with a join - you need to determine the unique highest scoring Rolling Average per account by pulling only the rows with PirateIDs that show up first when ordering by RollingAverage OR you make a separate table with just (AccountID, HighestAccountRollingAverage_PuzzleX, HighestAccountRollingAverage_PuzzleY, etc). This table would have an account ID and one number per puzzle in existence, per unpurged account. Which you'd pick depends on how often that call is run.

Neither is just switching a variable around. (Of the three curve-addressing proposals so far this one is the most complicated to implement based on the limited knowledge I have of the background.)(At least from the Database side. Separating out legendaries and above may be hideous on the server end I don't really have any way of knowing.)
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Zenithar at Aug 23, 2018 11:28:22 AM]
[Aug 23, 2018 11:25:36 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Darkings



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I'm sorry I'm getting way off topic but just so we get this out of the way if in the future someone want to know how the algorithm works.



So one day to update the duty scores is enough.
[Aug 24, 2018 5:48:41 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
patgangster

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I'm not sure what to see in that other than "I got an inc in sailing", a screenshot doesn't tell much. Did you perform badly (but happened to be top 1% because no one else plays?) Did you perform what you would consider inc-worthy?

Also I don't speak spanish.
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TriplePat, Emerald.
[Aug 24, 2018 6:50:38 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Darkings



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My bad yesterday I got ultimate without getting incredible, It was a 2 league session so the first average duty report ( building combo ) wouldn't mess the incredible session on the 2nd duty.

So 2 scenarios ( both of them assuming no one made a score in 9 days ):

1st scenario I didn't perform well enough for incredible, which I find it hard to believe since I did the exact same combo today, so I did an high excellent and it was enough for the ultimate.
But this scenario doesn't go along with the % theory, because if I did achieve ultimate I'm one of the top players at that time and I would achieved incredible since I did the same combo as today.


I'm more inclined to the 2nd scenario, where I did perform an incredible but the system compared me to a threshold score and I didn't reach it so I didn't perform an incredible.
But today since I made the same combo with the same 2 leagues apart I proved that the incredible score is based on the performance made by players the day prior.
And the difficulty of the incredible can be adjusted by the top players.
[Aug 24, 2018 7:08:54 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
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