Update #12: Next Stretch Goal Reached! Handicap System

  Apr 6, 2018     Iron Harvest

No Great Game Without Constructive Feedback 

One of the great things about a Kickstarter is getting feedback from fans who are passionate about the project. We read all comments, especially for controversial topics like “Pause Option” and “Handicap System”.

There is no way to make everybody happy all the time and game-development is not (and should not be) a democratic process. However, there are often valid points brought forth on both sides of the discussion and there might be ways to tweak the design of a feature to address many of the concerns.

So, please, keep the feedback coming whenever we announce new stuff or show something you want to comment on constructively. 

Handicap System

One of the systems we talked about a little bit in the last update is a “Handicap System” for multiplayer. The discussion about that has been lively and we want to give you some more info about where we’re coming from.

The goals:

  • We don’t want to split our player pool too much. If there are different multiple multiplayer modes and many maps, and everybody could only play against other players with their rank, it would become difficult to find a suitable opponent within a reasonable timeframe. We’re not StarCraft, after all. We won’t have a million or so players online at all times.
  • We want to make games exciting for as many players as possible. Getting totally destroyed by an opponent usually isn’t fun. At the same time while it can be fun to totally destroy an opponent, it gets old pretty fast because there is no challenge. The question is how to make games interesting when a very good player plays against someone who is not as good.
  • We don’t want to force players to do anything they don’t want to do. If a strong player does not want to play weaker players, we don’t force them to do so.
  • The last point is very important. None of this means you are forced to play against certain players or ranks or something like that. If you want, you can play only against your friends (in private matches) or you can configure the matchmaking system in a way that lets you only play against players of your own skill level (which might result in longer wait times). The Handicap system and bonuses will be optional.

Ideally, this is how the system would work:

  • As a good player, you usually won’t earn many points for playing against a weak player. But with the handicap system you can basically place bets: “I bet I can beat you with my units doing 25% less damage”, “I bet I can beat you with all resource points only generating 50% resources for me”, “I bet I can beat you earning 1000 victory points when I’m starting at 0 points and you start at 500”. These bets can be configured and can be combined and based on how hard you want to make life for yourself. The harder, the more points you can earn. All the sudden a mediocre or weak opponent becomes a real problem, because you have to fight with one arm behind your back, so to speak.
  • As a weaker player, you would lose a normal match but in a handicap match you might have a shot, because your goals and your opponent’s goals are not the same. And there might also be bonuses: Maybe a weaker player starts with more units or more resources in their base.
  • The system suggests “bets” based on player ranks (or more precisely an internal “player skill level”), but the players can adjust the bets any way they want (and get rid of them entirely if they want). 
  • We think it’s a good system in theory. In reality, we’ll have to see if and how it works. The good thing is: It’s just an additional system put on top of a normal ladder system, so if it doesn’t work, we still have the fallback option to just kill it. But we think it’s worth trying.

Another suggestion we really like is an option to call in reinforcements during a match for points. You basically trade XP/points for a boost you might or might not need.