Why would you have left FAF?

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I wanna know - why would you consider leaving FAF? I'm talking about new players leaving, not older players.

FAF has a big problem retaining new players. We actually get a decent stream of new players in all of the time but we lose them quickly - 90% of new FAF players will be gone after 2 years. And for this reason that I have not spent any time making FAF ads (like I said I would in my promo councilor application) or doing serious work on the website. The best way to help FAF grow is to retain players.

So why do we have so many players leave? Well it's hard to know for sure but there are some obvious things to try:

  • experience for new ladder players was demoralizing (getting matched against 1300 rated players etc)
  • toxic and abusive players
  • get crushed in team games
  • steep learning curve
  • lobby simulator

I think what would be good for FAF is to have some sort of "kindergarden" process where new players are babied for a while - their experience unfolds in such a way that they have positive experiences. So for example they could only match with other new people for a while, or they have to be able to be Sorian Rush AI once before they can unlock the rest of the game. Or there are dedicated helpers who can join the kindergarden games to offer advice. Or there are dedicated noob games automatically hosted, where you cant join unless you are in kindergarden. Or we could give them a properly organized training course, set their expectations. You need to be able to do this this this before you can expect to compete on Setons. Or we could put them in the kindergarden discord. Or we could put them in a same-language discord where they can voice-chat to people in their own language. Or we could auto enrol them into some clan. And you can skip the whole kindergarden process if you want. The idea is that we are trying to create an early positive experience to overcome the pain points.

TMM was meant to improve a lot of the pain around getting games so I'm interested in seeing if that helps at all (although I might have to wait 2 years...)

So does anyone have any ideas how we can retain our new players?

p.s. I don't want to have big conversations about poor balance choices or some such - I don't think that is a big factor in retention of new players, that is for disgruntled pros.

EDIT:
Hey guys - yes I am very interested in hearing what the newer players have to say. Please voice your opinion and just don't worry about it when people debate you -> some of us are keen to hear what you think. Don't be discouraged just because other people don't agree. I made this thread to hear what YOU think, this is your thread! Now go nuts.

Edit: FAF is actually growing overall. I don't mean to give the impression that we are declining in numbers overall. Eg:
https://forum.faforever.com/topic/287/is-faf-growing

I just mean that we are losing lots of our new players, and I want to keep a much higher % of them.

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What I noticed was very powerful was to pet new players, take them under your wing, personally approach them. If you throw them into the cold water with lobbies such as "500+ NO GREYS" where a new player who managed to win his first two games get called out as a smurf by garytheubernoob and his cronies can be very disheartening.
It might sound rediculous - but I think there are enough people up for the job - a sort of mentoring program could be a powerful tool to retain people. If you are new, then you should be approached by a mentor who gives guidance, explains rating system, how to find good games, basic game mechanics etc. I did that to a few people and some of them still stick around. Maybe add an add to the opening page of the client: "YOU ARE NEW: GET HELP HERE" and then a list of people to approach. Maybe put new players in a special IRC channel #new players where mentors sit and ask questions. I know that from games like eve online. I think approaching people personally is the best way to get someone involved, to feel acknowledged and it takes away the frustrations from not knowing anything in the beginning.
I think fafs biggest asset is the dedicated community members it has, people willing to put in work and explain stuff - connecting these ressouces to new players is a task that im sure will boost new player retention.

0

We already have the #newbie IRC channel. It is full of random noobs and no older players bother to go in there to answer questions or anything, so it is just worse than #aeolus.

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many new players jump in because the game is cheap af usually so they want to try it, sadly most of rts players are mainly playing vs AI, be it sc or other rts, and when they get to play multiplayer and realise that it's a completly different gameplay, they preffer to go back to AI or leave the game for any other that gives out instant gratification. Multiplayer is long and tedious process of learning, i've been discouraged by premade smurfs quite a few times but i still play because once in a while you get this ballanced nice game where you are proud to write gg wether you win or not, howwever it's worth to note that players often will get into one sided games, which are not really fun for either of the teams, because where is the fun where the game ends in 18 minutes..... it's an rts not league of legends. It would be nice to perhaps host some low elo tournaments, easily accessible to players and encouraged to take part in by the new guys, it would be a good material for videos as well, just to remind of T90 channel on youtube casting aoe2 games, he has whole series called low elo legends and it sells really well.

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I am a fairly new player in FAF, but have played the game for like 13 years. I would agree the biggest thing I to overcome was relearning to play the game. The experience I had to go on was that of the Supcom campaign, which didn’t really help in my team games. The biggest way I improved was watching casts of Supcom and watching games after I got killed in the first 5 mins.
I would think the best approach to this would to offer a bootcamp thing would kind of work like survival games. You could set it up to matchmake one noob and a pro to go through a like 20 min match where how the AI tries to kills the com rotates. One match the enemy com makes mercies, or just t1 gunships.
The mission ending once the enemy strategy has been defeated
I also think you could make ladder in the threat being T1-T4 and let the player choose which they would like to deal with.
You could have it just be two slots of any ranking, but the idea is the matches are quick, there is a team element and noobs can learn how to defend the basic early attacks.
You could even have little missions like build the hydro, make a smd, or build flak so there is some guide.

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@SpatialDude Try the map 'Rainmakers' - turn down the difficulty to easy (in the options menu). It is quite similar to what you'd expect on a low-medium level ranked game:

  • You have to expand and get those mass extractors
  • You have to defend said mass extractors but can't do it with PD as the space you'd need to defend is just too big - you need units
  • You need to defend from small raids (single units) to full-fletched platoons (16 - 40 units)
  • There are various small objectives to help you out - they can make life easier once you succeed but are hard to get right for players that are starting out
  • You have to reclaim or you won't have the resource curve that you need to survive for longer periods of time

Depending on the difficulty the game lasts between 25 - 35 minutes, assuming that you survive 🙂 . Once the easy version is do-able you are free to switch up to higher difficulties and experience the resource curve by surviving longer, more micro by having more units versus you, more understanding of reclaim because there will be more units to reclaim, etc.

Make sure you play it with two other people - it is designed as a three player survival. Put the best player in the most north spawn - that is the hardest spawn!

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Have recently been thinking on this, right now introducing a friend to FAF also, I have been exclusive ladder player so far, and quit for a few years up until november 2020... some thoughts:

  • Why did my eco suddenly crap out?!
    • Starcraft 1 Says "Not enough minerals." and displayed "Not enough minerals... mine more minerals."
      FAF should say (yes audio) "Power Stall" and display text "power down shields, radars and stop aircraft production"
    • The post-game score screen should flag power stall and mass stall events.
  • Game introduction is rough, because the rating system completely ignores friendly games and games vs. AI.
    • Give AI players a fixed rating for teamgames.
    • Give checkbox for AI players to appear in ladder for low rated players
    • Allow practice games, uneven games etc should be rated at max 0 - and always as if a victory for the negative rated players (you are bound to have learned something).
  • Team games... I still struggle today. Long ago, when I made my account, I got a 1200 rating for free. I am affraid to join team games, I just play ladder 1v1 - soon hopefully ladder 2v2.
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It's a game from 2007 and you can really feel that. Unresponsiveness when giving orders (they only get executed every 500ms...), pathfinding, weird terrain issues and many other things that feel bad when you know other newer games. On top of that once you join multiplayer you get completely dumped on because most people are way better than you. New player lobbies are terrible, too many idiot hosts that have retarded views and call everyone a smurf. There's no guide or whatever to explain what the hosted game titles even mean. I guess for the latter stuff we do have TMM now as a solution, but it's still only 2vs2, it should at least be up to 4vs4.
Also, 2 years is a long time to play a game, most people don't play the same game for hundreds of hours, so not sure how useful that 90% figure is.

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have any of you played starcraft 2??? its tutorial for getting people up to speed for multiplayer is very good, repetitive but good. starts on slow speed and builds up to normal game speed so people dont feel rushed and unlocks tier by tier. I know that seems like a big project but noobies need to learn land/air/navy/eco positions. also get told that while playing eco if you die to air then thats not your fault, your air player failed you or the enemy air was just better. too much emphasis on you suck instead of well if your team did this you wouldve won. I think a mandatory video on build orders and how some maps work before even letting people into the lobby. non skippable video and with emphasis on good replay games where you can watch different positions and they can be acknowledged by us telling them this is good gameplay.

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I think that those of us who have played the game for years underestimate how skilled we are and how difficult it is to do even basic stuff.

People host "noob" games and it's for under 1000 rating. That is not noobs. That is top 8000 in the world. Could there be some way to define and enforce what a 'noob' is, and stop 600-rated players hosting games with noob in the title? Anybody who knows a semi efficient build order is not a noob.

A friend has just started playing FAF after playing LAN FA about eight years ago. He hasn't got a clue what he's doing and I woke up to a message saying he's getting discouraged because he doesn't feel like he gets the game.

Hopefully I'll be able to help him get his head round it but most new players probably don't have that level of support.

I'll report back with how things go with my friend. Perhaps his insights will be useful at finding a way to retain players.

2

I played SC, FA and FAF, left for some years and happy to see that my account exists and FAF is alive with at least nr of users in chat comparable with 2015

Good ideas:
1.
@LargeMaleBennis said in Why would you have left FAF?:

an add to the opening page of the client: "YOU ARE NEW: GET HELP HERE" and then a list of people to approach

2.Tutorials are very helpful tool, better to have some more EX: fast build orders for units, templates for building, proper use of patrol; attack, Unit alignment, attack/defence strategy by land; air; water, etc... There are some interesting videos on Youtube

  1. Should be explained to New players that patience is needed for a reasonable period of time, to adapt, understand and fell the game.

  2. Kindergarden 👶 is a good idea. A place where they can feel save for a while 😉

  3. One of pure advantage is training of Multitasking, and that is real because you have to keep in mind a lot of stuff during a game

P.S. Thank you all for keeping FAF alive 👍

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One thing that comes to mind that I've really noticed with my friend is that new players are attracted to big maps and big weapons. I'm sure we all went through that phase when we started playing and it's a terrible noob trap.

Why would I make T1 tanks when I could make a Monkeylord?

To learn to play the game you need to be able to play 5k and 10k land maps. That's the fundamental building block that allows you to progress to maps that allow experimentals and battleships.

Let's think around that, how do we convince new players that they will get the most rewarding gameplay from learning how to do T1 spam? And how do we help them get to a stage where they can comfortably make ten factories and 300 Mantis?

1

Sorry for triple posting, can't really edit comments on my phone.

One thing I've noticed is that when noobier players feel trapped they start to make inappropriately big things to try to get out of it. I've seen a few games lately where somebody tries to make a Mavor. Obviously they're out of ideas so they go for the most extreme solution.

I started playing FA in 2008 and I have literally never seen a game where a Mavor was successfully made.

So there's some education to be made there. I'm not good enough to say exactly how we do that, but I'm thinking along the lines of a kind of logic gate flow chart that shows the various solutions to different problems. We need to teach people that the cheapest viable option is always the best.

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I find people expect too much from newer people and instantly blame them when things go mildly wrong when they're in one of the bigger map games

0

Would Starcraft 2 meta based maps work to ease players into it?

With all a players resources centered into a main, natural expand, and second expand.
Possibly with hostile civilian T1 PD in natural expand, and T2 PD + Flak in second expand, to sort of time-gate the expansions like Starcraft 2?

5

I believe that one of the main reasons for FAF is the toxicity of players. People watch streamers or casters, learn to be toxic from them. People see the behavior of high-ranked players and succumb to it. If everyone in the game tries to help everyone else, then the community will only bloom and grow. Propaganda of aggression on streams or in videos (not of an entertainment nature) should be punished. The less FAF will have toxicity, anger, aggression, the more pleasant it will be for us.
I also believe that everyone in the FAF is trying to "pull the blanket over themselves". More than 90% of players believe that they are stronger than everyone else and there is no one stronger than them. This is what makes the generation of FAF idiots grow up, trying to appear strong when they aren't. Only small circles of people support each other. The rest, in turn, only hate everything that others do, when they themselves can not do anything to promote.
Thank you for your attention!

5

It's cool to think that a training system is an idea to keep people around - just like it's cool to think that way every other month when this topic appears... But if you haven't been paying attention to FAF proper; you'll find that we're already having to resort to giving 500 rated players trainer status because the supply of volunteers can not and can never meet the demand. If you put out a call for more high rated players to help train people, you'll maybe get one or two, but everyone who cares about this sort of thing is already doing it.

Here are two ideas that would help with retention:

  • Maintain some form of clan relevancy.

It's pretty clear from reading this thread that "a dedicated FAF community" is something that many people take for granted now that they're in a circle of like minded people. Frankly, this is not the way it's going to go for a lot of new people. Imagine knowing nobody and having to put up with Ninrai teamgames/Bisq01 in ladder/etc/etc.

While I don't think that toxicity is a huge factor in player retention (see: overwatch, league, any mutiplayer ranked queue), Easily finding a group of people you enjoy hanging out with keeps you around in spite of all of FAF's issues.

It's just the basic human desire to belong to something and clans are/have always been an easy way to acomplish that.

Right now clans only serve as a way for letting veteran users know who to avoid. It's only a matter of continuing to promote and provide incentives for them before they become relevant again. You'll find that when better players have a good reason to, they'll train lower rated guys on their own. People in their own clan "can't be that bad" and helping them win games for the clan benefits them. Strange to see that clans are forgotten when they're oft a critical factor in most legacy game communities.

  • Unranked queue

I already know that if you're a vet, this is the most asinine suggestion this side of the decade. But frankly, you can see it in this thread and you've known this since forever. Many new players cannot overcome ladder anxiety. It's the difference between "us" who just "played the game because it was fun" and eventually became good, and people who seem to think they need to spend 4000 hours doing everything but.

Unless TMM and then new divisions systems we planned out work to remove the game by game "fear" of losing rating - the only incentive to play and only major community wide status symbol - we're likely going to need to create an enviroment that further removes the anxiety. It's a place where losing is not really any consequence and your learning experience (if you want one..) is not stained by scripted scenarios or AI games that teach you the wrong impression.

Just some 2 cents, don't bother trying to imagine tutorials because we don't have people who are able to make them to an acceptable standard. and besides, you likely came here from a cast showing off some nice gameplay? If people come here for nice gameplay, don't be suprised if they leave after spending 2 weeks doing something else.

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Bit of a leftfield thought maybe, but Russians. Specifically, what is it about the game that makes it so popular with Russians? If we can figure out what it is about the Russian mindset that makes the game particularly appealing, maybe we can use that as a selling point, kind of reframing what a player can expect to get from the game.

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