Why would you have left FAF?

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Ftx not to toot my own horn, but I wanted to mention, I noticed in Aeolus for a week or so, after each SCTA show match, 3-4 folks come in asking about SCTA Mods. And kinda like Biass said earlier, I think its that kind of thing is also important.

Like yeah its only 1 Cast about once a month, and maybe not really news worthy for Nine. But its one of those things. I have noticed increased people joining SCTA Discord. The biggest windfalls after Full “Release” in September

Morax adding SCTA to then FAF M&M Discord

TAU Promoting 1st SCTA Tournament

The First SCTA Show Match between Postal and Swkoll.

All saw biggest mentions and most repeatable of SCTA in Aeolus and/or new faces in my discord. The third show match in Feburary will be interesting. Saw a bump from Jagged’s stream but not as larger as one from Postal-Swkoll’s. Maybe it was due to different time or how the former got a week of proceeding advertisement and the latter only a single week mentioning it occured.

I had a point here and I forgot

I’m a shitty 1k Global. Any balance or gameplay suggestions should be understood or taken as such.

Project Head and current Owner/Manager of SCTA Project

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@Blodir Look at your rank though. I watch Gyle's casts, and I see variations in units and different strategies you guys use. But those are at the higher level. Most people will never get there. They just aren't as skilled.

Those of us playing down here (the ones that are leaving), there's not a ton of variety because of the way the tech race is structured and having to defend yourself from the higher tier players. Games last 60 minutes, and you need to be T3 by minute 20.

There's no room for slow growth because the opposing side doesn't use the middle tech tiers.

The only stuff I see from T2 is Cruisers to bombard bases that haven't figured out how to build TMD yet.

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@khabume
Imo most of your observations you pointed out fall back to the maps hosted and played. Unfortunatly those are mostly Astro/Gap/Thermo in the lower to mid ranked area. Those maps are known to promote turtly playstyle and often feel like an eco-simulator without much interaction and use of all the units in all tech stages you got. The map layout simply just calls for it to be this way. On top of it, having such a distinct focus on eco and an overall clear meta seems to provoke quite some toxicity at time if someone didnt yet understand how those maps play out or just screws up. Overall, its pretty unfun if you like interaction und you may think, this is how FA is meant to be played. Lucky you, its not. There are alternatives but there should be more.

There are some players in the community trying to help to overcome that issue by hosting "all welcome" games on decent maps. E.g phong already deserves a medal for that as he is hosting 4v4 all welcome games on mapgenerator maps on a rather regular basis. Those are very welcoming to new and unexperienced players, usually have spread out spawns and no dedicated air slot. Games are rather dynamic and highlight the importance of map control.
I feel, FAF could benefit alot of such kinda moderated lobbys (mapgen or not is not the point) to present an alternative to the majority of teamgames hosted on the same 3 turtle maps in the lower rating area. (Dont get me wrong. If you like DG, well you like it - nothing terribly wrong with that.)
It seems to me, players in this range are often simply to intimidated to go 1v1 ladder or want to play in a team. Team Matchmaker could/will somehow solve that issue, although players need to overcome their fear to be thrown into the fighting pit and any many new players may be reluctant to do so after getting crushed horribly a couple of times.

It seems to me, it may be very beneficial to have some dedicated and welcoming FAF guys hosting newbie-friendly all welcome games (FAF kindergarden-bootcamp games if you like) on a regular basis on half decent maps. Just to have a low barrier/threshold alternative available opposed to the majority of "crap" lobbies. This could be a good and low effort way for new players to highlight all the different ways how the game can be played.

So, how to achieve that? Is it feasable to introduce "official" FAF lobbies for newbies hosted by well known community members?

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I think there is an underappreciation for 1v1.

It was a bit of a chore to get the eco right (in terms of t1 stalls), but you seem to win or lose 75% of games on tactics and map control. Failing to spot and stop a run-by feels like the way you should lose an RTS match.

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@cocAurico 100 % agree. I'm just playing 1vs1 and I'm happy with it.
So I don't have to argue with some 20-year-olds!

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@Amygdala
You are definitely on point. Alot of it has to do with maps that incorporate a defined choke point and give players enough eco at their starting point that they do not need to move very far to have everything they need.

However, it's difficult to get a match going without using one of those maps particular maps. People who are interested in the efficiency aspect of the game just want to play SimCity to the higher tiers.

I don't believe that the experience I have is true to the entire experience that FAF can give you. It's a much broader game than that and the potential is phenomenal.

However, it is indicative of what most players are presented with the first time they start FAF.

You go to the Play Tab, the first thing you see is a list of Custom Games.

Right now, while I'm writing this, here's the maps:

Astro, Gap, Gap, Gap, Astro Gap, Setons, Gap, Astro, Rohan, Gap, Setons, Vale of Isis, Canis, Astro, Plateau of Arracis.

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@khabume on the new client you have to click off of matchmaker to see the custom games, so that's a bonus and also while yes, there are many gaps and astro's hosted people do have the ability to host their own games on maps which they want to play. If new players come in and see those maps hosted then it's because the a large proportion of the player base enjoy those maps and statistically speaking, they are more likely to enjoy those maps too. There is a large enough variety in maps/ game types that people aren't going to leave because they see one experience but play another.

As for Amygdala's points, as much as it would be nice to have moderated lobby's for new people, that won't happen, you could get some people who enjoy hosting all welcome games like phong, but at the end of the day if they don't enjoy it then they wont be hosted and it comes back to the point that those games can be completely imbalanced with one decent player which could demoralize new players.

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@F-Odin
Well, if the current player base enjoys those maps, but you have a 90% drop off rate of new players, I don't think that means that the majority of new players like that play style too. Otherwise it wouldn't be 90%, it would be 49% or lower.

This thread is about the inability to retain new players.

You're not going to figure that out by asking the people who have played it for years and are involved in the community. You need to ask the guy that quits after 5 games.

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Frankly my best guess that it has a low retention rate is not due to it at all, people pick up Supcom for like $5 because they had the game 10 years ago, they come to FAF for whatever reason, be it the mod database, coop campaign, multiplayer, they play their games and the nostalgia wears off. 2 years is a long time to play any game, especially one which is already 14 years old.

These players are the majority of that 90%; the ones that hop in and hop out unnoticed. They may not even play custom games or ladder, so for the community it's nearly impossible to keep them, as you can't give someone that nostalgia if it's already worn off.

I can't see why there's the suggestion that the problem with retaining players are the games that people choose to play. The assumption that people drop out because of a map or game style which benefits them and is majorly popular is remarkable.

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@F-Odin
That very well may be. But either way, if you're trying to grow the community you have to identify what you can change to increase retention.

People who are leaving because they're just done with it, yeah, there's not much you can do.

So my original post is directed towards the things that bore me with the game and might chase me out sooner than 2 years. And my tech race point is actually being echoed by players with many games, so it is something to be considered. Whether that's trying to dissuade players from using the same maps constantly, or whatever other solutions may come about.

https://forum.faforever.com/topic/1098/increase-t3-mex-cost-reduce-reclaim-to-reward-aggressive-gameplay-at-t2-stage?_=1611169438095

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@F-Odin said in Why would you have left FAF?:

As for Amygdala's points, as much as it would be nice to have moderated lobby's for new people, that won't happen, you could get some people who enjoy hosting all welcome games like phong, but at the end of the day if they don't enjoy it then they wont be hosted and it comes back to the point that those games can be completely imbalanced with one decent player which could demoralize new players.

Those games do not need to be played by the host. They "just" need to be hosted in a popular, low threshold way that newer players know they will get a decent game there and are not lost because the lack the meta. The host could to the balancing, answer some questions, maybe give some ideas what could work on a map.

I recall it from my early days on FAF how difficult it can be do fill a lobby in a decent time on a map beside the well known turtle maps. And from what I got (also in this thread), this is still the case. TMM will help to solve that to some extend although quite some of the newer players may be to intimidated by it.

Giving players a better time exploring teamgames without getting flamed at when they screw up (they are new, they dont know the meta...) may help on the long run to improve player retention. And I think having FAF-"moderated" game lobbies could help/be one part to achieve goal.

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@F-Odin
Hey F-Odin.

I happen to be the friend that Wainan mentions - the one that doesn't really have a clue what I'm doing.
I haven't attempted ladder because as I understand it, I will just lose.

My experience of the game so far on return has involved starting games against individual AI and increasing the difficulty, then watching my replays.

The focus has been on getting me to understand Feb basic style of play that I need to be able to master in order to ladder.
I'm shit at this, and feel like I just end up pissing off my teachers. From my perspective, If I can't beat the AI up to at least harder difficulty, there is probably little point laddering. I am probably just too late to the party with games like this.

So far it feels like a lot of losing in order to prepare myself to play people that I'm probably going to lose to.

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I think some of the gap and chokepoint maps like Gap of Rohan and Astro Craters would be great for the ladder pool, for players less than 500. Those maps are much easier to play, and more forgiving. They were very fun for me when I was a noob. They were also great for learning to eco and basic strategy. Even now, I wish the maps in ladder at my rating (700) were simpler. Expansion, and reclaiming trees and rocks can be tedious on many maps.

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@Amygdala I'm with you now. Nice point but hopefully tmm will just cut out the middleman.

@AlleywayJack I can see where you're coming from but it seems to me that there's a fear factor of losing, which is understandable. If you were to try ladder, yes there would be initial loss where the system works you out, but this system is fairly accurate and will put you against people you will have the ability to beat. No you're not too late to the party and I can assure you will be able to beat people, even if you cannot beat AI. That's why there's a placement period and a rating system in place. What I'm curious is how you've got into this mindset because it's a dangerous mindset to be in, if you truly enjoy the game, which I'm guessing you do, then even 4-5 losses on the trot shouldn't push you away. I speak from my recent experience trying my hand at chess, which has a similar rating system, yes you lose a few games but there is a point at which you'll start winning.

@khabume You have to remember that large team games (5v5 and over) are a feature of FAF, but the original game wasn't designed with that in mind therefore should it be balanced for Dual Gap or Setons, no. With regards to the thread posted, will increased T3 mex cost help promote t2 on those maps. No. You have 96 Mexes in the bases compared to 36 outside on duel gap and with setons all positions have several easily defended mex. All that will happen is the games will be that little bit longerwhich is the last thing you want when a game could already go on for multiple hours. Your tech race point is only viable on easy to turtle on maps, you can see t1 and t2 used on other high large team game maps such as wonder as well as in every 1v1/2v2/3v3 played. What I really can't understand is that if you're so against the "tech race" meta that has developed, then why do you still play dual gap and why haven't you tried ladder where the game was designed to be an RTS? Like, I get how you may have gotten into playing those games, but they can be used as a stepping stone to feel more confident to host more open maps or to try games with lower player count.

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@F-Odin
Because I'm not a 1v1 guy. That's why I don't play ladder. It's not fun for me. I like the team games.

I told you what I don't enjoy about the Team Play game, which is what I like to play to help shed light on why some people might not stick around.

Your responses, thus far, have been.

  • Don't play Team Games
  • Don't play the Maps that everyone plays Team Games on.

?????????

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I've played 50+ games so far and have had 1 player toss abuse for gameplay deficiencies on my part. I think most players are normal players who don't sling harassment. I've had far more annoyance with the controls of the game.
Units playing bumper cars with one another.
Units taking a long time to heed orders.
Units straight up ignoring orders.
There's a glacial feeling to the game that will make modern rts players twitch. I don't mean to say we need SC levels of mechanical response with stutter stepping and other rapid gameplay nonsense. The game simply feels old. And this will likely put off new players.
Personally, as a new player, I want to see technical improvements. But I also want to see continued development of the game. New units being made core and the like. For new players, the most obvious thing separating this rts from others might be the large scale battles and the experimentals. Arguably, the T4 stage is when faction differences become very apparent. I'd want to see an expansion when it comes to T3 and T4 units. And possibly units one final tier higher. This game is incredibly old. Purists would take offense at the idea of developing it further. But I personally think it would retain players who might have returned for nostalgia purposes or players who came because they were attracted by the scale and the T4 meta.

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@ChingChengHanji

I hope this isn't sacrilege but maybe give Planetary Annihilation a go. Personally I think it's inferior to FA but there's a lot to like about it and the UI is much more responsive.

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I bought SupCom when it was released in 2007 and played most of the way through the storylines; then SCFA came out and I played that for a bit but life intervened. Then I discovered FAF but mostly didn't like the actual online community because it was punishing being a noob still and the only advice people had was "play more games", "learn to play better" and "watch your replays to see what you did wrong". A friend of mine played FAF together vs AI for a while and then we discovered the ANZ FAF discord channel and I've been having a lot more fun.

So firstly I think that players stay if they have a group of friends to play with. You can lose to those friends occasionally but you can cope with that if people support you, you work together as a team and your mistakes are overlooked. People who trash talk need to be called out and settled down, and people who contribute to the team's success need to be complimented. A "learners discord server" or similar, with a small complement of experienced coaches there, might help contribute a community for new players.
But really the big problem I see is that if we taught drivers to drive the way we teach people to learn FAF, we'd have carnage on the streets every day.

With driving, you start a new driver out just doing the very basics in a safe environment. Then you might take them for a drive around an empty parking lot to learn a bit of control. Then and only then do you take them out into the world to do some driving on known routes in good conditions - and all the while an experienced driver (hopefully) is there to take control if they need to and give advice and encouragement.

The way we 'train' in FAF it's like we throw a new person into the drivers seat and say "OK, go". And then we blame them for crashing and say "just look at what you did wrong and don't do that next time".

Here's an example of a single exercise from a FAF training plan I'm working on:

  • Map: Cobalt Valley or Theta Passage
  • Exercise: Build one engineer, five labs, and one scout. Assign the lab/scout group a number and target enemy mexes and engineers. Practice moving the group around while continuing with your normal build orders.
  • Objective: To kill one engineer and at least two mexes not in the core base using that lab/scout group.

This could be played vs an AI by oneself, or against a trainer playing the opposing faction who was in voice chat with the learner. That's a very basic exercise but it's clearly one that some newer players never learn. Then they get ravaged by LAB raiding and they think "this is unfair, I don't know how to do that". I've got ideas for exercises right up to T3 and experimentals. I'm happy to share this with other people - it's in its early stages (too many things to do, you know?)

The other thing I'd recommend is that in team games one person in the team take charge (a bit) and give directions. Coordinate your actions and make sure that people are getting the assistance they need. If there are newer players, check on them to see how they're going - and lend a hand if they need it. If you see them getting into trouble, help them out! You're almost always better off with two players than with one player dying early. People know they're struggling but they're doing their best and they'd far rather be helped than cursed.

I love this game and I love the community around it. Some of my best gaming moments have been winning, and losing, in Supreme Commander. If we can keep new players interested and learning, we'll all enjoy it more.

Have fun,

Paul

faf.mabula.net maintainer.

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