"Some thoughts on future artifact games"
So, everybody is all abuzz with rumors of a new artifact game. Some people (maybe those who have never played in an artifact game) are really excited. Some people hear the news (these people may have stayed up for 36 hours following an artifact) and crave death. Others (maybe most people) hear the news, and are completely indifferent -- “what’s an artifact?”.
As someone who has played all the roles in a shard/artifact game: Planner, operator, key trafficker, logistics, linker under fire, and (of course) guardian of a shard for a gruelling day-long block of time (Where’s the badge for ‘Ring-bearer’?), these are my suggestions about what could be done to make the game a lot more fun, and, well, fix what was clearly a broken process.
1: Artifacts should be an order of magnitude less buggy.
The most common problem with artifacts in Helios were that they would regularly simply fail to behave as the rules suggested they would. In particular, there was some sort of anti-spoofing protection in place that nobody understood, and it resulted in disasters like ops which had taken countless hours to plan and hundreds (in some case thousands) of dollars failing as legitimate players in legitimate PITA locations in legitimate monsoons (<3 you India) were unable to even do basic tasks like link an artifact portal.
2. Niantic needs to communicate early and often and establish clear lines of communication.
When 1. happened, no one at Niantic would publicly comment. Supposedly it was because the anti-abuse technology was so hush hush it couldn’t dare be mentioned because people could circumvent it.
This was a disaster.
Players already knew this would happen, they were just in the dark as to why legitimate players were failing to make links from artifact portals -- actual cheaters had a zillion zillion bots to test with until they got what they wanted.
Leaving players in the dark pretty much was the worst.
3. Have a clear
process for arbitrating bugs and rule clarifications/updates.
I think most of us understand that no set of rules survives first contact with reality. Certainly, none of the artifact rules have!
But you can spare a lot of misery and hurt feelings from players if there is a clear process for arbitrating these effects.
Large scale sports have this as a day to day problem -- and have evolved fairly comprehensive systems to deal with them.
I could write a whole doc about what this arbitration system should look like, but the basic idea is that the process should be:
- Consistently applied
- Subject to input from both sides
- Decided by impartial referees
4. Niantic needs to be available.
Despite the efforts of some heroic community managers (Brian Rose chief among them), Niantic’s support staff for artifacts largely operated out of the business hours for the offices they were in. In remote corners of the world, bad stuff happened with artifacts, and it was really, really hard to get remediation before irreversible changes happened.
5. The actual cheaters need to be dealt with
There was no greater worst day for artifacts in Helios than watching artifacts being blocked from moving by links thrown by spoofers; or by artifacts held in place by the efforts of the Vilnius botmaster [*] deploying very rare shields on all portals in a city.
As I write this, there are new spoofing frameworks in place that have resulted in an increase in spoofing all over the world. What’s worse: these spoofers are neither being detected, nor are they being dealt with.
I can give you dozens of documented evidence of this, but why don’t I let the botmaster speak for himself? https://plus.google.com/u/0/+OtovDohued/posts/6Yg4ZpG5SQQ
Followup from victims: https://plus.google.com/107968243322257304619/posts/DWfFLTwRsUEhttps://plus.google.com/u/0/+AlexMeatman/posts/Wnw9jcvnJbR
6. Niantic should think about unintended consequences.
The hard part about designing any system, and maybe especially where the system is a game, is about predicting the consequences of rules. This is hard not because of what we do know about the game, but more about the things that are not immediately obvious.
I could give you a ton of examples here, but for Niantic folks reading this, just think of the unintended consequences of something like the Guardian badge.
How much time and effort has been spent on dealing with the player behaviors this badge has induced? Now, imagine how various artifact decisions have resulted in drastic, unexpected player behaviors.
It is worth thinking about how things might break in unanticipated ways when you make any change.
7. Do not
make artifacts 24/7
I saved this for last. It is the most ‘concrete’ suggestion, but it is important for Niantic to hear this:
Making a game which is 24/7 is ruinous on the health, wealth, and psychological well-being of its obsessed player base. There are good people who will run themselves into the ground if the game doesn’t stop, burn themselves out, and generally sour people on the prospects of artifacts.
I say this as someone who has met any number of amazing and borderline psychopathic friends from the people willing to do this. But because they are my friends, I don’t want to see this happen to them again.
I don’t want people to see an artifact descending on their city to be like a Biblical plague. It shouldn’t be, “Oh crap, A24 is here. What next, locusts?”
There are better ways to do an artifact game.
The following are just suggestions -- there are any number of ways to make artifacts not 24/7, just take these as ways to improve it:
* Artifacts one weekend, anomalies the next
* Artifacts occur in an N hour chunk of time (perhaps following the septicycle), and we get a moving block of time each day
* Artifact game unlocks when players accomplish some in game action (total MU?) for a period of time. *
Thanks for reading, and hope those who have lived through previous iterations of the artifact game can chime in as well.+Brian Rose +John Hanke +Daniel Musto +Terry Stout +Wendy Pyle
("When do I get to be marooned on an island again?")+Kris Habraken +Dustin Harwood +Jennifer Barry +Jennifer Pisano +Jon Harmon +Thrakazog +Kevin Wojta +John Hyrne +Kris Murray +Dwayne Maxwell +John Mazur +Michael Wylie #artifacts #shonin #artisane