Why would you have left FAF?

2

I started playing again a few months ago so while I'm not new anymore I certainly was then and remember the experience.

I think there are a few factors contributing to low player retention but the most important is FAF's very steep learning curve. It's often said that the best games are those easy to learn but impossible to master. Imo FAF is very hard to learn to the point that it's almost overwhelming.

In terms of team games, players come to FAF having seen replays of GCs dueling it out with chickens and com drops and close tactical games and that's what they want to replicate. What they are then faced with is noob gap games where there is usually lag, nothing happening for 20+ minutes and suddenly one team completely winning.

I took the route of ladder and it was frankly terrifying and stressful up until about 600. Getting past the first few games of ladder is incredibly daunting as you have no idea what to really do and can get matched against high rated players.

Tl;dr FAF looks really cool on youtube and then people join and find it very hard to get good enough to have interesting games. They then also have to deal with "no greys" "no au/no ru/no eu/" lobbies, endless boring gap games and often a not particularly nice player base.

1

Honestly FAF being a separate client and has to be downloaded sperate and outside of just buying it on steam is kind of weird. I remember watching a cast and was like, oh man this is amazing. I went and purchased it on steam and was like wtf. Is that a fixable problem or what yall are talking about? Probably not but it was quite a few days before I found out. I think it was zombies or something and was like oh man that sounds like fun then couldnt find out to get to it, eventually it lead me to FAF.

3

I just read through this entire thread and I mustve been the luckiest player on this client. The worst experience I've had was getting kicked out of a lobby with a "sorry" message because I'm a grey player. I have been playing on the steam version for years and finally came here because well... steam is dead. I have had awesome games and yes the occasional troll, DC and lag games but overall my time has been positive. I am relearning the game which is nice since FAF is way different than steam and I am becoming a better player for it.
Now I just need to figure out what happened to galactic War since that sounded THE MOST FUN! And we will be good to go. Thank you devs for keeping this game alive.

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After reading through this thread daily I see two main problems that have 2 possible fixes straight forward fixes.

  1. The game is hard and the learning curve is steep as fuck, in order to be able to have some fun you need to put in a lot of time and effort ( talking about PvP here), to make it easier for players we could:
    1 a) Make a vs AI tab in Play tab (along Custom games and Matchmaking) where you will be automatched (solo) vs AI of chosen difficulty, this could use a seperate pool or just the ladder one. I know people can host their custom games etc. but this would make it very straight forward to get games on curated types of maps where you can learn the basics.
    2 b) Make short tutorial style missions where you learn the basics. eg. a series of missions focused on: Basic Eco, basic BO, Expansion, unit usage etc. I know Ftx created a written guide but let's face it, people that look long enough to find the discord, the guide etc. are the ones that already want to get better and stayed with the game, we need tutorials and learning materials to be in the face of new player.
    On this note maybe we should incorporate the written guide into the Tutorial Tab? Right now it's really hidden away, you need to either have someone link it to you or go into gameplay and training chat in discord and look through pinned messages.

  2. The community in the lower ratings is pretty toxic and unwelcoming, you have players that play specific type of maps and then expect everyone to know the meta etc. You also have the 0 games, grey rating problems.
    The fix to that is 4vs4 TMM which is being worked on and hopefully will fix those issues.

3

@Tagada playing verses AI is nearly the worst thing you can do if you want to improve your game vs other players. For people who do want to play against AI, and there are many, you can host a game on any map vs a number of AI difficulties. I can't see the benefit of developing a matchmaker only to save some people from learning how to host a custom game.

As for 1b) I agree, for the tutorials tab to be so empty when there is content to fill it is harsh on those who are totally new. If you saw a tab dedicated to learning, would you be annoyed if you saw it starts with four map specific build orders and with the remainder of content being a link to heavens tutorials.

Tutorial Tab.png

Even then if these maps are in and out the pool, these tutorials are useless as people who use them will have to wait a month at least until they are back in the pool.

Would it be hard to port the blank slate tutorial from FA over? (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, I mean the one below.)

Tutorial.png

It's not your golden coated tutorial with Gyle voice acting, but it was designed with the intention to give players with 0 experience, somewhere to start, which beats them trying to learn the game through skirmish.

2

I've taken on a new cadet and because I'm also learning how best to teach I think I'm going to work towards creating semi-structured lessons.

I reckon that all offline RTS players tend to like base building and fortifications for example, so I'm working on ways to explain why that's actually counter productive. We'll see how it goes but I think we're making progress.

I'm going to try setting tasks to help bed in the knowledge with experience. I'm going to ask him to make as many T1 tanks as possible in 10 minutes and then use the replay to suggest ways to improve it. There's a very clear score there as well so it will be easy to see improvements over time.

Hopefully as we go on, it will be clear how to introduce new tasks and the best way to structure advice.

1

Some things that I've found to be very helpful in feeling more confident in pvp and boosting my rating from <-100 to 200+ in 2 days were, in my opinion, rather fundamental in being able to have the apm to balance eco, production and attacking in FAF. They were:
-setting up the basic hot building keys for units and structures by hitting F1 in game
-turning on build templates in options (should default to "on") for both structures and units, and then taking the time to setup those basic structure templates (t1 turret surrounded by walls) and unit build queues (t1 tank/arty/scout & t1 air opening) in game for future matches
-learning to have multiple factories to assist a main one so that you can focus on eco, expanding, def/attacking.
-learning that building forward bases (ie. 3-4 factories around a mex) helps establish map control and constant unit production

These concepts should be implemented in some form of basic tutorial/initial client setup.

2

The original idea of the BO tutorials was to have one for each map that will be in the pool for new players.
I made the framework and guide on how to make new ones, so almost anyone can make them now. There's very little code required to make it, its 95% copy paste of existing one and renaming groups to build.
The promlem as with everything on FAF is, there's no one who would do them.

About any other tutorials, explaining basics, and what not. I needed someone to write down structure for those so I could make them. But again no one did.
A lot if good suggestions everywhere, but almost no one does things.

2

@speed2 where is the framework for this would like to talk alook

2

There was a clan ladder in gpgnet and at least the top 10 clans have done training seasons each weeks. The trainers were motivated as they wanted to see their clan rising and the new clan members were motivated as they wanted to support their clan.

Today we have a trainer team. So let's say each thursday e.g. from 07:00 pm to 08:00 pm they would be online in the #newbies channel and you can ask them everything. They could review replays and so on. It would be only one hour per week and if the team is large enough you don't have to do it every week.

I will try this today and be active in the #newbie channel from 7 to 8 pm gmt+1 and make some advertise before it.

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@Tagada said in Why would you have left FAF?:

Make a vs AI tab in Play tab (along Custom games and Matchmaking) where you will be automatched (solo) vs AI of chosen difficulty, this could use a seperate pool or just the ladder one. I know people can host their custom games etc. but this would make it very straight forward to get games on curated types of maps where you can learn the basics.

This would also be a nice way to introduce new players to some of the nice custom maps they may not have seen before, and this pool can be way less picky than any ladder pool and need changing less often

@F-Odin playing vs AI in a non-pvp setting is a large proportion of all faf games played, making it more convenient would be beneficial to those people. It's not about training the next ladder god.
And besides, playing vs ai should still be a useful learning experience if you are totally new and e.g. don't even know what tmd is or how anything works

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@boom For players that are totally new, automatching vs AI won't help as much as a tutorial which teaches from scratch. While, yes playing vs Ai is a proportion of games, which I've stated before, many of these involve an individual or a group of mates playing vs Ai because: A) they're either all not confident enough to play vs other players or B) they prefer playing a relaxed game

Now if they aren't confident in playing PvP then in my mind, it's better to focus on prompting PvP through Ladder, Tmm, training, etc. otherwise some players never make the bridge over to PvP. If they want to play a more chilled out game then they probably would pick a setup where they can decide the map, difficulty, mods etc. over being auto matched against an Ai.

My last point would be how many people would actually use it? I write this at 12:30 GMT on a Saturday and there are no unmodded custom games vs Ai hosted. A realistic rate for this maybe what, 3 games an hour?

The intentions are good, but I can't be blindly optimistic about this idea and it's because of these reasons that I don't think it's worth the time to create a new automatching system, especially when there are other large projects in the works.

4

I disagree with fodin. My preferred way to learn a new rts is to jump into skirmish with an AI and try everything. I imagine it will be like this for many other people.

AI "matchmaker" could be very useful. Sc2 has this btw

2

That's where I was coming for, SC2 has it and when I started playing it last year it was very useful

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@boom said in Why would you have left FAF?:

@Tagada said in Why would you have left FAF?:

Make a vs AI tab in Play tab (along Custom games and Matchmaking) where you will be automatched (solo) vs AI of chosen difficulty, this could use a seperate pool or just the ladder one. I know people can host their custom games etc. but this would make it very straight forward to get games on curated types of maps where you can learn the basics.

This would also be a nice way to introduce new players to some of the nice custom maps they may not have seen before, and this pool can be way less picky than any ladder pool and need changing less often

@F-Odin playing vs AI in a non-pvp setting is a large proportion of all faf games played, making it more convenient would be beneficial to those people. It's not about training the next ladder god.
And besides, playing vs ai should still be a useful learning experience if you are totally new and e.g. don't even know what tmd is or how anything works

So since we all agree, time to head on over here and help me out! 😉 :
https://forum.faforever.com/topic/309/ai-megathread

For reference I posted about this idea here : https://forum.faforever.com/topic/1100/why-would-you-have-left-faf/173

0

All this talk about how AI trains you wrong... can't you prioritize making a (bad) AI that nonetheless plays the right way?

I think that merely setting the AI to execute a standard build order that cover the first 5 minutes would improve it a lot right? - Even if it then continues stupid behavior, it is mitigated. The AI will probably handle whatever "standard" units it produces better than a totally new player.

6

Hello everyone,

I first joined FAF like many people at the beginning of the first lockdown in March, but really started playing just a couple of months ago so my new player experience is still relatively fresh.
That being said, I am at a 1.3k global ranking now and do intend to stick around for a while, so I guess this is the opinion of someone who got over the "new player hump".

First and foremost, I agree with many of the posts here: The game is indeed very hard, unintuitive and complex. More casual game modes that can bridge the gap between the (coop) campaign and multiplayer would also be greatly appreciated to onboard new players.

But really, what got me closest to quitting was the toxic community at ranks below ~800. At those ranks, every game is a complete clusterfuck, and sometimes (often) one side just straight up gets destroyed by the other, even if both sides were of the same skill level. Imo there is nothing much that can be done about that. The game's economy of unrestricted exponential growth means that even a 20% difference in skill, can result in you having 10 times the number of units than your opponent just a couple minutes later. So new players will regularly get destroyed at lower ranks and there is nothing we can do about it.

But what we can change is how they FEEL about getting destroyed! Every such game that ended with people starting to flame and then ctrl+k-ing their entire base left a sour taste in my mouth while games where I got equally murdered that ended with friendly advice on what I could have done better, made me want to play again right away!

It's not even about people like me I am concerned about. I have thousands of hours of competitive multiplayer games under my belt by now, so I am (sadly) very used to online toxicity by now. But, the toxicity at lower ranks does prevent me personally from introducing some of my more casual, less abuse proof friends to the multiplayer side of FAF. Because who wants to introduce their friend to the multiplayer experience of a game they adore, just for them to be called slurs for minutes on end?

Playing 2v2 with them is only a partial solution as the scale that many casual players love is found much easier in 4v4 or larger multiplayer matches. There are many other good things to be said about larger team games too:
On many noob-friendly maps, the initial minutes are conflict free, which just feels much more relaxed than the "action from second 1" that smaller maps have.
Larger team games usually have dedicated roles for each spot. While suboptimal for learning FAF the most "efficient" way, one single role like "you are the air player, just have more planes than your opponent" is conceptually much easier to understand than the myriad of stuff you have to do in 1v1 and 2v2 games.
Larger team sizes also make it easier to write off losses as not entirely your fault. It's not that I'm preaching unaccountability here, but loosing 5 times in a row, and knowing for certain it's your fault, can be a much harsher experience than just knowing you could have done a bit more.

None of this is new information of course. I mean, there is a reason that lower ranked players get drawn to 6v6 dualgap and not 2v2 Fields of Isis.

So the most natural place to onboard new players is in large team games - at least half of which end in flaming at lower ranks...

My suggestions therefore would be a Karma system of sorts, fully built into the client.
Make flaming, griefing, ctrl+k-ing your base reportable and start restricting people's functionality once peoples karma score drops too low.
Maybe start by restricting all-chat during games, so they at least can't flame the other side for "being smurfs" or whatever, maybe even disable team-chat too if they drop too low. Put a skull picture next to their name in the lobby so people know right away not to take them seriously, ban them for a day or a week, stuff like that.

You could reward positive behavior too, although I don't know what those rewards could be yet.

tl;dr: Have been playing FAF for about 5 months, the toxic community at lower ranks is imo the biggest hindrance to introducing new players to the multiplayer. My solution would be a Karma system to punish bad behavior.

1

Serious question, is there any support among the Council of Seton's for making toxic behaviour immediately punishable?

In the early days of Supcom (GPG, early FAF), there was next to no obnoxious behaviour. There's still a lot less than in other online games, but I feel that if management took a strong stand against it then the culture could be changed.

As I've said above, we all underestimate how hard the game is and how skilled we are. Do we really want people who have so little self awareness that they abuse anybody who doesn't know the game as well as them?