Development Blogs 1-9 - Development Blogs 10-19 >>
Blog #9: Meet the new ProducerEdit
October 11th - BP Caedmon Hey everyone,
In a recent forum post Javery_BP mentioned my arrival on the Battlestar Galactica Online team, so I thought that it was about time that I introduced myself properly.
My name is BPCaedmon and I am the new Producer on Battlestar Galactica Online. My background for the last 10 years has been in Project Management and Production, the last 5 years of which were spent as a Producer at CCP Games on EVE Online and DUST 514. Given my last job, you can probably guess I am a sci-fi nerd and more specifically a massive Battlestar Galactica fan (I would tell you that I have been a fan since the original series, but then you’d know what an old geezer I am!). This plus the fact that I’ve been playing BSGO for a few months now means I am really excited to join the team here at Bigpoint and help take BSGO from strength to strength.
In light of the history of change on BSGO I want to stress that my recruitment is very much about continuity. My job is to leverage my experience in leading teams in the games industry, to help the BSGO team here in Hamburg to keep on doing more of the great work that they have been doing until now. The plans we will be executing on have been in development for some time now and I’d like to take a moment to thank the whole team for their hard work over the last year, in particular my colleague and previous Producer BPHorst for his ongoing support.
I know details of these plans have been slow in coming, but before we discuss them externally the team want to be sure that we do due diligence in evaluating the potential impact of these plans on the game and the amount of work needed to implement them. This will make sure that we focus on the right features to ensure a rosy future for the game. We believe it would be worse to communicate plans before they have been fully vetted and then have to do a 180 degree change shortly afterwards.
That said, making games is a complex and ever-changing business and plans, however well made, sometimes do still need to be changed in order to respond to new community feedback, the needs of the game and changing market conditions.
We are now in the final stages of doing due diligence on our Roadmap for the coming months on BSGO. Javery_BP will be communicating some of our first steps in another devblog imminently. After that we will continue to publish devblogs outlining our intended direction and we will be looking for your feedback to help us refine the details of the plan.
Thanks for your patience so far, you’ll be hearing more from us soon.
Blog #8: Strike ControlsEdit
August 30th - Javery_BP Hello Pilots,
There’s something big coming that we’ve kept a bit quiet for a while, but it’s time to show it to you. We’ve been working on new, mouse-based controls for the strike ships. These controls bring a whole new dimension to piloting a strike, and they are currently playable on Kobol.
So What’s Different?
We’ve designed these controls to be an action-oriented control scheme. These controls will give you a sense of the direction we plan on taking strikes in the future. There’s a lot that’s different and it might be a bit overwhelming when you first get in and play.
Mouse Controlled Pitch & Yaw Your strike ship can now be controlled with your mouse. When you move your cursor away from the center of the screen your ship will begin to turn. There are two ways you can engage the cursor:
1. Hold Right Mouse: Holding the right mouse button will allow you to move with your mouse. You can also select objects with your cursor in this mode. If you want to select something else while not moving, simply release right mouse and mouse movement will be disengaged.
2. Middle Mouse Toggle: If you don’t like constantly having to hold down your right mouse button, then you might want to toggle the cursor. By pressing the middle mouse button, the control cursor is toggled on. Any mouse movement will control your fighter. To turn the controls off, simply press middle mouse again.
Combat Crosshair First off, there’s now a crosshair in the center of the screen. It gives you a rough idea of where to get your enemy to get your guns to fire. The thing to keep in mind is that your fire arcs are much narrower than they used to be, but the improved control should make it easier to get your guns on a target. Your guns will fire automatically like they did before, but you must get the target close to the crosshair for them to start firing.
Built in Sliding Now you are finally able to slide like you see in Battlestar Galactica. With our new sliding mechanics, strikes can slide and maneuver just like they do in the show. Along with that, when you turn on your RCS Slide ability, you will continue your backward motion while still being able to slide.
Distinct Ship Maneuvering
Part of our long term goals for making ship roles and is giving each ship a more unique feel in maneuvering. You’re going to see that each ship has very distinct maneuvering attributes, and the ships have been designed along those lines. Some ships will be more agile, while others will be tougher. I’d like to give brief description of each ship and its role:
- Viper Mk II / Raider (Interceptor): The interceptor is highly maneuverable with the highest slide speed. Very good at close range fighting with its improved turning and slide rate.
- Viper Mk VII / “Cylon War” Raider (Heavy Fighter): The heavy fighter is able to with stand punishment and engage targets with a vast array of weaponry, but is not as maneuverable as the interceptor.
- Viper Mk III / “Cylon War” Raider Mk II (Strike-Fighter): The strike fighter fills the role between the heavy fighter and the interceptor. Less maneuverable than the interceptor, but carrying heavier armor, the Strike-Fighter is a well-rounded vessel.
- Rhino / Marauder (Gunship): The gunship is designed to take a lot of punishment, but is the least maneuverable of all the vessels. It has exceptional boost acceleration, with the highest boost acceleration of all the ships in the game.
- Raptor / Heavy Raider (Command): Command vessels are designed to support their fellow pilots with Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) attacks and Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM). It has decent maneuverability, but it is vulnerable to more maneuverable vessels like the interceptor and fighter.
How Do I Choose a Control Scheme?
The old controls are still active (we are calling those “Classic Controls”) and the “Advanced Controls” are available for pilots who still wish to use them. To choose between the previous controls you have to install a module in your ship, and you can only do this when docked. There are two modules, one that activates the old controls and another that activates the new mouse-based controls. They will both be placed in your locker. There is a module for each ship in the game. The two modules are:
- Combat Avionics Maneuvering System (CAMS): The CAMS module provides all players with the full capabilities of the new mouse-based controls. This module will be installed in all strike ships by default.
- Basic Avionics Maneuvering System (BAMS): The BAMS provides players with the classic controls you have always known. If you don’t like the new controls, simply change the CAMS module out for the BAMS module.
There is a known issue with these controls. They are sensitive to a high ping. If your ping is above 150 milliseconds, you might find some issues with responsiveness. We’re looking for solutions for this issue, but at this time you might find them a little sluggish if your ping is high. Also, with a high ping you might also see a bit of “jittering” in the crosshair.
Advice for the Controls These controls take some getting used to since you’ve been playing a specific way for quite some time. Most of the initial feedback shows that it took about 30 minutes for veterans of the game to really get the hang of the controls. Also, there’s a mouse dead zone setting in the options menu and you can make adjustments there if you find them a bit too sensitive. It’s a very different kind of game with these controls, and they will probably feel a bit off until you get some experience using them.
These controls are the first step in a much larger plan that we’ll be sharing with you soon. They reflect the core direction we see the game heading in the future. I’ve been working for a long few months to get these feeling right, and we plan on iterating on these controls as we push forward on some of the core changes we want to make to the game. We’re putting these controls up on Kobol, and we need all of you to get in there and play with them.
Blog #7: DRADIS Contact & Interdiction Mission GuideEdit
August 30th - Javery_BP Introduction
This developer’s blog we will discuss the new mini-game called DRADIS Contact and the new Interdiction Duties that take part in the 46 Graeae (pronounced Gry-eye) sector. Since it’s fundamentally different than Triad and Prophecy, we thought it would be good to give you a basic manual and overview of the feature.
DRADIS Contact is our new mini-game which replaces Triad and Prophecy. Rather than have two different games, both factions have now the chance to play the same game instead of two different games.
How to Play DRADIS Contact? DRADIS Contact is played by selecting targets, then launching rockets at the targets. Rewards are gained with the targets are destroyed. If you fire multiple rockets at once, your chance of getting a better selection of rewards increases, because items in the loot table are eliminated as they are rewarded. There are no duplicate rewards.
Playing a game of DRADIS Contact is made up of the following steps:
Step 1: Target Selection When you enter the game, you will not be able to fire rockets until you select at least one enemy. You may select multiple enemies at once, but you can play by firing a single rocket. Once you have selected at least one target, the fire button will become active. If you have selected too many targets, then you can simply click on a target to deselect it.
You may be wondering why more shots cost a little bit extra. The costs are based on the chance to win. As each item is unique, it’s not possible to win one specific item twice in one round. That also means that the 2nd (up to 6th) shot will have increased chances for higher value items as the loot table gets smaller.
Step 2: FIRE!
When you press the fire button, you will get a confirmation with the total cubit cost. You can disable this pop-up if you like, but it’s handy to have if you are cubits pinching at the moment.
Step 3: Rewards Phase & Replay
After you have pressed the Fire button, your rewards will be revealed.
You will win a mix of currency, some items, and most importantly, FTL Coordinates. FTL Coordinates required for gaining access to the three Interdiction Duties. Once you have your rewards, you have to click “Reload” in order to play again. If you don’t want to play again, then you can simply close your window.
|1||FTL Transponder Cell|
|3||Technical Analysis Kits|
|1||2x Mining Booster/24 hours|
|1||2x Merit Booster/24 hours|
How do I win the jackpot?
The jackpot is like all the other items, you don’t have to do something special, just play the game. As you may have seen, the jackpot is also the same for all players, but changes every day. So, while there is a chance for a booster on one day, you could win a map package or cubits on another. So, check every day in case there is something special you are after. Plus, you get a free shot every day, so why not take advantage of it. You might just get lucky.
These missions are a completely revamp of the known FTL mission. They are aimed for being more interesting, enticing and last but not least more challenging. We’ve set them in a brand new sector, with new asteroids and other terrain to make it unique and interesting. If you want to get an idea of where we are taking our sector design, then this is a pretty good example.
Interdiction Duties take place in the 46 Greaea sector. 46 Graeae is a region of space dominated by the gas giant, Sappho. Its gases intermingle creating a series of three super storms which move across its surface called the “Three Sisters”. Ringing the gas giant is a set of massive rings that glitter in the light of a distant sun. The area between the rings and the planet is known as the Tooth. The Tooth is an area of space where many ships have met their end and it’s dense with debris and gas clouds. There is an area that is where large ships can move through safely, and the area has become a major transition point for both Cylon and Colonial freighters trying to go unnoticed.The basic structure of the missions revolves around destroying convoys trying to move through the Tooth. Each mission consists of special seven waves and every defeated wave will count toward your final reward. One of the great features of these missions is the randomness in the waves. Some of the waves can be different from mission to mission, so you’re never quite sure what you are going to get. Also, the enemies are a bit smarter than before. They use special abilities and will try to exit the sector if you try to draw them. They want to escape, they don’t want a fight. They also have some special behaviors, so it’s not going to be simple as it has in the past.
Finally, the waves are moving to a jump out point, and if you aren’t fast enough then they might get away. We’ve designed the waves to require some travel time to get to, and that’s so you can repair along the way.
How do I enter those?
There is this new “map system” next to the DRADIS Contact mini-game. On any round of firing, you can win map coordinates related to the three maps. It’s also possible to earn multiple map coordinates in one launch cycle. If you have collected all coordinates for one map, you can directly enter them. But be prepared – it couldn’t harm to have a missile launcher or repair kits with you.
What about my old FTL fragments?
With the new DRADIS Contact, FTL Fragments are no longer valid and Old FTL Fragments are converted into Coordinate Packs. Each pack provides up to 10 map coordinates. Players will receive one coordinate pack for every 25 fragments or fraction of 25. A player will receive each map pack in sequence starting with Alpha, then Beta, and finally Gamma, then it will cycle back to Alpha. So a player with 155 FTL Fragments would receive the following coordinate pack distribution:
- 46 Greaea Alpha: 3
- 46 Greaea Beta: 2
- 46 Greaea Gamma: 2
Interdiction Duty Rewards
The reward system is similar to the dynamic missions. You get a reward ranking in the end of the mission based on participation and success. The rewards ranks are bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Additionally to Cubits you can earn nuclear weapons, ammunition and new special weapons available only through the Interdiction Duties.
Why did we remove Triad and the old FTL Mission?
As we’ve been working on the game, we felt the visual and gameplay quality of the FTL missions and the Triad/Prophecy games were really not at the level that Battlestar Galactica deserves. This is an example of the general visual quality we are aiming for as we improve the game.
Triad and Prophecy weren’t very exciting, and were basically a passive experience. As we improve the game with a solid visual style in our new UI. We also wanted to create a unified system for the game. While it isn’t as personalized to the faction as it was before, having a single mini-game to update means it’s easier to make changes and improve. We want to give you more options for winning in the game, and designing two games in parallel is not a good use of resources.
Also, the old FTL missions were not very compelling. If you were going to spend time playing these missions, we wanted something where you had to think a bit and adapt to changing situations. We also wanted to make sure the enemies were actually challenging in ways other than just more hit points and more damage. They needed to act more like a player would, and as we move along the enemies in the missions and the open world will get a bit smarter. As a whole, we just wanted it to be more fun.
Also, we wanted to have the missions more flexible based on what you decided to equip for the mission. We designed a new system to scale our enemies. Enemies now scale their strength based on the gear your ship is equipped with. The system examines your gear, and derives a score from that. That score is used to scale the enemies in the mission to be a challenge for you regardless of what ship you are piloting.Finally, we wanted to put them in a more interesting environment, and we used this sector as a test bed for some of the visual changes we want to make to the other sectors in the game. The Hades sector was our first venture into making a unique and high quality sector, and this sector is the next stage of our new art style. As we move forward, we will work to improve the art in the open-world sectors.
We hope you really enjoy the new game and new content. As we move forward, you’ll be seeing more quality like this, and we hope you have a great time playing through this content and the features we bring you in the future.
Blog #6 – The Vision: Economy & ConflictEdit
August 23rd - Javery_BP, Tobias_BP
It’s Tobias and Javery again.
There have been a lot of changes in the game as of late without clear communication about why these changes were happening. We have a long term vision for where the game is going to go, and a lot of these changes have been pushing in that direction.
We want to give you insights in the current process recent changes we’ve made and where we see the game going. This blog post will focus on a few core changes and why those changes came into place. We will also address some core concerns that have been voiced.
The things we will focus on in this blog post are the Daily Water Cap, the “new economy”, daily missions, and the RCS changes.
The core of Battlestar Galactica is constant conflict, regardless of whether it is physical combat, political infighting, or religious fervor. Conflict is at the core of Battlestar Galactica as a setting and theme.
We want those core conflicts present in Battlestar Galactica Online. The core concept of that conflict is present in BSGO with the conflict over resources, but unfortunately the current design of the system doesn’t produce the gameplay results we want.
In reality, not only do you fight the enemy faction for kills and resources, but you also fight each other; maybe not physically, socially at the very least. These economic mechanics are counter-productive to the cooperative nature of factional warfare and the social nature of a multi-player game. These mechanics have to change for the game to be as fun and fair as it can be.
Resource Income & the Daily Water Exchange Cap
We know this hasn’t been a well-received modification to the game, but we’ve made it for a few very good reasons.
When we made adjustments to the water distribution, we wanted to push everyone into conflict with one another, mainly because fighting one another is actually fun. Fighting over something is even more fun. In general it worked. We directed players into conflict zones rather than being spread throughout sectors where you rarely encountered one another. We also wanted to make the whole scanning process more positive as a whole. The rate of getting a resource hit on an asteroid was anticlimactic, and we wanted it to be a more positive experience. Second, we also wanted to shift conflict to planetoids because those are stationary objects that players can find. When you can find one another, you are more likely to fight and have fun, and the game more exciting. Planetoids are better flashpoints for conflict. Finally, the adjustments made it so factions were cooperating rather than fighting, and that is counter to the fundamentals of the setting and the core gameplay.
The one thing we couldn’t anticipate was the surge of water that appeared in the system. While we are sure you liked it, but it was completely unintentional. To give you an idea, water mining increased by an additional 150% above the previous level. It actually seemed to make the conflict between everyone worse and made it harder for new players to get access to water.
The water exchange cap is an artificial solution to limit the rate of gaining cubits. This serves two purposes. First, it encourages players to do something else other than farming once they hit their resource cap. They can build up more resources, but there’s only so much they get out of it per day. Second, since players are no longer constantly farming resources per day, they open up resources to other players.
This may seem odd when you think about it, but our long term goal is to equalize cubits access for all players. We want players to be able to compete with one another, and limiting the exchange rate allows other players to get access to resources. This change also factors into some of our other planned changes to our economic system.
The new water exchange cap actually puts levels back at the same rate as they were before based on metrics we have available. At the same time, we admit it isn’t perfect and we are already getting a revamp of the system in place. We recognize that you can’t log in everyday and we want to design a game that works for your schedule. So we are changing it from a daily maximum to a weekly maximum. The amount of water you can exchange will be adjusted to match that weekly exchange rate. It allows you to be more flexible in when you farm and how you go about it. You should see that update relatively quickly.
Daily Assignments & Dynamic Mission Rewards
When the original game systems were developed, shooting asteroids with cannons was the core way in which you gained income. The basic concept of farming was pretty much accepted as a good way to create a solid free-to-play game. If you can’t afford or don’t want to pay, then you grind a bit and you can compete.
Unfortunately, there are some core problems with this concept. First, it isn’t really that fun. Second, it creates competition for advancement and resources within a faction and perpetually puts the weaker faction at a disadvantage as they can’t compete for resources. Lastly, and most importantly, no character in Battlestar Galactica ever shoots an asteroid with the cannons on their ship. It just doesn’t happen and it is fundamentally a setting breaker. One of the primary bits of feedback we get about the game is “it doesn’t feel like Battlestar Galactica”.
One of our major goals has been to figure out a way to reimagine mining as it exists in its current incarnation in the game. Asteroid farming is simply not fun, it gives an unfair advantage to players who have more time, and it breaks the setting. (Hint… that setting breaking thing is the most important).
With that in mind, we are focusing on daily activities and dynamic missions as the primary sources of income. We want to make daily assignments into activities that are fun to play – quality instead of quantity. There are a lot of redundant tasks in the daily missions. We will reduce the number of missions in order to focus activity in the game, and increase rewards gained from each mission. Second, with the introduction of dynamic missions you will have a host of new activities to accomplish. The “Freighter in Distress” mission is the first of many we have planned, and your daily missions will direct you to complete a number per day.
The dynamic missions are still in the infancy and we are working out the finer points. As Toaster mentioned in the last blog post, the dynamic missions haven’t revealed their final rewards yet. We are working to balance those rewards to make them enticing and interesting.
With that in mind, that’s where you come in. We need you to hammer on these dynamic missions. We need to see activity on them. We know the rewards are not the amazing at this point. Right now we just want to get them fun and the rewards will be dialed up as we move along. As we stated on release, the rewards are not final.
This combination of daily assignments and dynamic missions are intended to be the new focus of activity for players. Rather than shooting rocks in space you will be protecting disabled freighters, defending a mining ship, or any number of other activities that could actually happen in Battlestar Galactica.
Economy – The Long Term
The economy is a sensitive topic for any game, especially a live game. Stable currencies allow proper rewards and pricing while inflation can harm the whole gaming experience. Believe it or not, interacting with an economy is actually supposed to be a fun experience. Right now our economy is a bit of a mixed bag in the “fun” department. Tylium and Titanium are next to worthless. There aren’t enough things to spend those resources on, and that’s why some players have enormous stocks. Combined with the focus on cubits, the game has a high “pay to win” mentality. That has to change.
The changes we made are some of the first steps into making a new economy that presents fun challenges, reinforces the Battlestar Galactica setting, and encourages team play and interaction.
As you have seen – the new dynamic missions entered the game as new, fun to play content which encourages huge fleet battles. Players are rewarded for participation in those activities. You see, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose those activities. It matters that you participate.
The current economic system is counter-productive to that concept. We want everyone to participate regardless of level, and the only way to do that is to reward participation. Your daily activity will become the core means by which you will gain resources, rather than spending your days shooting rocks. Gathering resources will be a goal rather than the direct gathering of currency.
Our long-term goal is to create a stable economy that is also able to keep value in the long run. Furthermore we want to improve the accessibility of the system; as new users enter the game and are “forced” to farm three different resources to maintain playing. That system is confusing and breaks the setting on a fundamental level.
These changes will take time and iteration to get to a final state. Something of this size can’t be done at once, and we are really excited about how the game is going to change. We want to make this game feel like an authentic Battlestar Galactica experience, and that’s what our goal has been all along.
Other Topics – RCS Rebalancing
There have been quite a few complaints about the recent nerfing of the RCS ducting. First, it addressed a core gameplay imbalance. The RCS Ductings were simply too powerful and it made a wide variety of other items completely useless. It’s about making the game better.
Regardless, we hope you are seeing how that change has dramatically improved them game. Unfortunately that change came right after an engine sale, and we’d like to clarify why. To put it simply, it was a mistake. We know you might not trust what we are writing, and we understand why.
We would like to share the background information on how this happened. Game update 16 was planned to be released on Wednesday, July 31st. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet this date for technical reasons. The patch just wasn’t ready for release and the release had to be postponed to Thursday, August 1st.
Additionally, the patch notes have not been completely localized into all languages on Wednesday. Since the changes were very big changes, we considered it would be just fair to release the patch notes translated into all languages simultaneously. That is the reason why the patch notes were published on Thursday.
Finally, the sale simply happened because no-one thought of cancelling it. We forgot about it completely, because we simply wanted to release on Wednesday while having the sale ready to be used after the release – not before.
No one ever wanted to paint the picture that we are doing such things on purpose. We’re gamers first, and we know how it feels. You are the reason why we are working hard on improving the game, adding new features, and making crucial, necessary changes to develop the game you deserve. We’re committed to making every aspect of the game a positive experience and we haven’t communicated with you effectively. We will communicate more effectively in the future. With your help, we are going to build a great game.
Blog #5: Dynamic MissionsEdit
August 15th - BP|Toaster
I am BP|Toaster, one of the game designers on the development team of Battlestar Galactica Online. In the last months I have been working together with some of my fellow team mates to create an exciting new feature – Dynamic Missions. In the following paragraphs I want to give you a little bit more insight on how this feature works and what our intentions and plans for the future are.If you think about the traditional concept of quests or missions it works like this: the player visits a friendly NPC who gives him a task, moves out into the game world to accomplish it and travels back to the NPC to receive a reward. While this makes sense in many cases, it also has some downsides we wanted to get rid of when implementing a new type of content into the game.
The first thing we changed is how you acquire a Dynamic Mission. Instead of having to actively sign up for it at a certain NPC, you just have to be in its vicinity to participate. If there is a Dynamic Mission taking place in your current sector, you will get notified by our new mission tracker. It gives you a brief overview of what has happened before the mission starts, and shows you the progress of the mission while it is active. You also do not have to participate in the mission from its start – it’s perfectly fine to join later on, as long as you do something useful you should get rewarded for it when the mission ends.
Battlestar Galactica Online is a game with a strong focus on PvP, so Dynamic Missions will be almost always double-sided, pitching the two factions against each other by giving them opposing goals.
However, Battlestar Galactica Online is also a MMO with an open game world, so we cannot ensure that there are always other players around for you to blow up (and get blown up by). Therefore most missions will spawn NPCs to aid you or provide you with some opposition. Which NPCs are spawned is based on the participating players ship tiers (strike, escort, line, capital), while the number of NPCs is determined by the difference of participating players of each faction. The bigger the difference, the more NPCs will be spawned to help the underdog faction – until a certain limit. While we want missions with very few participating players feel balanced, we do not want to diminish your efforts of outsmarting the other faction and coordinating a big group of people.
In addition to NPCs spawns, we also have other means of balancing. In our first mission, the objectives hit points will be scaled based on the number of attackers as well as their ship tiers to make sure that the mission is always challenging, regardless of how many players participate.
While taking part in a Dynamic Mission your personal contribution to accomplish its goals will be tracked. In addition you will also gain contribution for actions that work towards these goals, for example killing enemy NPCs and players in the vicinity of the mission. Depending on the type of the mission the tracked actions may vary, and we are still in the process of tweaking existing and adding new ways to earn contribution, as we want to encourage team play and support a variety of different play styles.
When a mission has ended you will then be graded based on your contribution. You will get a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum grade, the latter only being available for the winning faction. Apart from this bonus for the winning faction, the actual outcome of the mission does not have a direct influence on your grade – if you performed well, you should still see a gold medal at the end of a failed mission.
Each grade contains a fixed set of rewards that is communicated to you by the same HUD element as the missions themselves. This is also the case if you are not in the mission’s vicinity when it ends, so don’t be afraid of dying! Currently you won’t be able to see your reward while on a loading screen (it still will be added to your account though), but this is something we want to improve in the future.
The actual rewards you will get are currently quite low. This is intentional as the Dynamic Missions are a very complex system and we want to make sure everything works as expected before giving out rewards we think are appropriate for your efforts. Stay tuned for updates that will add both personal as well as faction rewards for taking part in and completing missions successfully.
The mission we added with game update #17 is only our very first Dynamic Mission, and we therefore kept it deliberately simple, making it easier to track issues and iron out the kinks. The system we built is very flexible end extendable though, allowing us to create more complex and many different types of missions, as well as whole branching mission chains that tell little stories and take time and effort to complete. While we add more and more missions to the game, sectors will finally become the epic and dynamic battlefields you see in the Battlestar Galactica series and other science fiction space operas, having several missions going off at the same time after being triggered by timers, other mission’s results or you, the players. We want to create emergent team play, drive conflict between factions and deliver content that everybody wants to play because it is fun and rewarding.
There is still much to do to achieve those goals with the quality we have in mind, and we now need your help to find out how all the ideas we had and educated guesses we made while developing this feature will hold up in a live environment. I am eager to read your feedback, ideas and thoughts and will be constantly monitoring the discussion boards in the upcoming weeks, so we together can shape the future content of Battlestar Galactica Online.
Blog #4: Escort and Line Balancing PassEdit
August 4th - Javery_BP Hey everyone. Welcome to another blog post. We’ve been a bit quiet lately. We’re getting our road map ready so we can discuss the long-term features with you. There have been some delays in this progress simply because we’re working hard on a few features and getting new features and game updates ready to go. In the meantime, we decided to do some quick and simple balancing across the board on a number of ships.
Some of these changes are a pretty dramatic. The goal with these balancing changes was to make some ships more viable in the game while at the same time dealing with some clear unbalanced items that exist.
As we were observing the forums and doing our own testing, we discovered that escort ships have a dramatic advantage in the game. They effectively acted as super strikes, and it’s possible to get an escort going as fast as your typical strike. While the speed wasn’t much of an issue, the combination of its firing arc and accuracy really made the escorts far too powerful.
The first place we looked at the escorts was their weapon accuracy. At an accuracy of 350, the escorts were far too accurate when combined with accuracy ammunition. The combination of the base accuracy and accuracy ammo bonus threw the hit model out of balance and we needed to reduce escort accuracy to make the other ships more viable. With that in mind, we started by reducing the accuracy of all escort weapons to 300. After some testing, we feel these changes put the escorts at the right accuracy.
The next thing we did was look at ways to differentiate the escorts a bit. One of the problems with the multi-role ships is that they can sort of do everything. They are genuinely considered (at least for escorts and strikes) the best ships in the game. That goes against our fundamental goals for the game. We want each ship to feel unique. Each ship should be about individual players’ preferences and play style, and ships should fall into roles. There should never be an “ultimate ship”.
The assault escort is getting an increase in hit points to give it more of a chance of fulfilling its role as an assault ship. While it might not have the most guns, it should be able to take a beating. We increased the hit points of assault escorts to 2000 for the basic level, and 2500 for the advanced.
Next, command escorts are getting an increase in their power regeneration. The basic vessel will get a slight bump to 11 energy per second at basic level, and 12 energy per second at the advanced level. We also want command ships to be a little vulnerable and require attention from their teammates, while still being effective vessels. This concept falls into our vision for command ships in the future where command ships act as the central support vessel of a fleet. For now, they are seeing a drop of 12% to their hit points at the basic level, and but only a small 3% drop at the advanced level.
Lines aren’t really going to see a lot of changes at this point in the ship balancing. Right now we just wanted to make the Jotunn and Jormung feel more robust and sturdy to full its role more effectively. We’ve increased hit points of the ship by 17% for the basic level and 20% for the advanced level.
Jump Transponders are getting a reduction in energy cost so anyone can use them. The initial goal was to restrict them solely to command ships. At this point, the game isn’t really ready for that as we don’t have enough diverse items to really give the other ships a clear role. Also, we are adding the FTL Transponder for the Carrier. The carrier will be able to effectively become a continuous spawn point for a fleet when fully upgraded.
Where you are going to see the most drastic changes is with the RCS Ducting. The real advantage of this item is its static bonus that doesn’t cost energy. Passive bonuses conceptually have to be lower, because they don’t have a real cost associated with them. With the current bonuses, RCS ducting is a very over powered piece of equipment.
The Heavy RCS Ducting bonus created the “God Ships”. God Ships are line ships which typically install five RCS Ductings, multiple damage control packs and auxiliary power arrays.
These items combined gave the user a significant advantage that meant they were practically impossible to kill or unnecessary difficult through an effective cycle of power generation, avoidance bonuses, and repair cycles. These ships have been a constant thorn in the side of players, and it is an unfair advantage that favors those who spend money rather than those who can’t. We also hope the change creates a wider variety of ship builds in the game.
We looked at multiple ways to solve the problem. First we looked at simply removing the item. We also considered making it a non-stackable, activated buff, but we felt that diminished the importance of other activated buffs in the computer slots. Also, doing an active engine buff didn’t really fit our idea for the game. After some testing, we decided the solution was to rebalance the attributes of the item.
The Light RCS Ducting wasn’t something that was exceptionally overpowered and we were comfortable with a slight tweak of a couple of points. However, medium and large RCS Ducting needed some re-balancing to really make the game more playable.
Starting with the Medium RCS ducting, we looked at the how much of a bonus it provided. At level 1 it provided a 17.5 bonus to avoidance and could get as high as a 42 point bonus. This turns into effectively a 16% bonus from one item. With two items you end up with a larger bonus than what you get from an activated buff. With five loaded on a ship, the player ended up with an 84% bonus to their avoidance. This was far too high, so we looked to bring it in line with the bonus you get from the escort scale buff. So now, with five RCS Ductings installed, you end up with a 40% buff. Now the range for the bonus will range from a 10 point bonus to a 20 point bonus. So with the hit formulas, the escorts become easier to hit for line vessels, but it also still provides a good bonus to your defense.
Next, we looked at the RCS ducting for the line ships. A Heavy RCS ducting started at a 30 point bonus and could range up to a 72 point bonus. That literally translates to a 100% bonus from a single ducting. For ships that can mount five ducting modules, it basically translates to a 500% bonus. It made the ships incredibly difficult to hit. Rebalancing this item was difficult because minor changes in avoidance don’t really impact your chances to be hit, and this is exaggerated when looking at the line vessels. To have them be effective this required a fairly generous bonus. Now, a Heavy RCS Ducting will range from 15 points to 30 points. So you still get a good bonus, but it’s not as outrageous as it was before. It also means that lines can effectively hit one another with their guns, and we hope that will reduce the flak fights that seem far too common among line vessels.
I know these are some pretty big changes to the game, but these changes have to happen. As we revamp core systems in the game, you will see similar changes with the focus on improving and balancing the game. We want to make BSGO a well-rounded, team-based MMO. The features we develop over the next six months will work towards pushing that goal.
As we prepare the long delayed roadmap post, you will see where we want to take the game and how we want to make some pretty big improvements to your gameplay experience.
Thanks for your patience in all of this.
Blog #3: Faction Balance, Resource Distribution, and Other StuffEdit
June 25th - Javery_BP, Tobias_BP Introduction
Hey, Javery_BP here again. There have been some changes in the game recently, and we haven’t communicated those changes effectively with the community. We’d like to talk about them so the community has a better understanding of what’s going on with the game. Before we get to those features I’d like to talk about a question that’s been popping up in the forums and in the comments. In the comments section, NJ_Blitz made a very reasonable request, “I think many players would appreciate a more general view of the development of the game by explaining a little of the many things you are doing, not just focusing on one thing that will be out in a week or two.”
First off, I’d like to thank NJ_Blitz for being polite in the comments. The politeness is appreciated and I want to make a point to address the issue of the game’s direction. The community has a right to know where the game is going. While the Five Question Fridays were a good start, it was difficult method to effectively communicate the direction the game is headed. I want to make sure the direction of the game is more clear than we had been in Five Questions Friday. While I’d like to say I have a blog post ready to post, it’s going to take a bit of time to write up and get right. You should see more information on this by the end of the week if all goes well. I’d like all of you to know what to expect from the game, because it’s important to me that you’re having fun and enjoying the game. Until that post is ready, Tobias_BP wants to discuss on some of the recent changes.
Hi, this is Tobias_BP. I’m sure all of you are wondering why we decided to touch the resource distribution system, and replace it with a new distribution model. What is the old distribution compared to the new one, and why did we change that? We’d like to give you some insight into our thinking and why we are making the changes we’ve decided to make.
The old distribution was focused on getting players in sectors near to the opponent base to let them fight there for resources, and there were just two to three systems really worth fighting over. This produces certain patterns in play style. We have high level players from one faction entering low level sectors of the opposing faction just because of the resources were more enticing. This ends up with the problem that high level players are hunting low level players simply because of proximity. Finally, we had also the issue there was just a few systems that players were interested in. If you combine those factors with the faction imbalance, we had the problem that one system taken by the winning faction increased the resource gap drastically. To improve the guidance for new players, and to improve the faction balance we decided for a new distribution system.
The new system is tackling a couple of issues. To improve clarity when entering the game we decided to shift the most interesting resources where high level players would most likely encounter one another, and try to pull them away from new players who were just getting into the game. We also aimed for an improved farming experience by increasing the chance to find a resource. We reduced the “chance of failure” by practically doubling the chance of finding resources, and now players don’t have to scan multiple asteroids for a “success”. Asteroids contain resources more often now, but with slightly lower amounts in order not to harm the whole economy. We also changed the general distribution in terms of needs. The most valuable resources are in the sectors where we want both factions to meet up, the areas next to it have more resources to repair. This allows players to recover losses next to the fighting zone and enter back into the action more rapidly. Last but not least you can find more Tylium in the basic zones to build up your ship and prepare for battles.
We’ve been paying attention to your feedback, and looking at how the new distribution model is behaving. We are fine tuning this where we think resources need to be adjusted. The entire design is focused around creating “flashpoints” where players will move into conflict and fight one another over resources.
Faction Switch and Balance
It took a long time from the first proposals to the final faction switch. I want to apologize for the time, but we wanted to make sure we did it well. We’ve seen – like all of you – that we have a huge imbalance between the Cylons and the Colonial population on all of our servers. With my entrance to the BSGO Team we’ve improved monitoring and analyzed lots of factors to create better faction balance.
We’ve seen the result of former switches and decided to improve the process as we aimed for better results. That’s why we started an application process. Basically the goal behind was to find the right candidates that fit to the lacks in the other faction. Of course in most instances the Colonials had better values, but we’ve also figured some servers where the Colonials could benefit from Cylons joining their side. Therefore we also allowed Cylons to apply.
After the application phase was closed we spent again some time to match applicants with server needs. On some servers, the number of applicants is not enough to fill balancing needs and to avoid making balance worse than we decided to not move Cylons this time. The topic isn’t done considered complete in our opinion, and we are monitoring population balance trends in future for a possible second round of faction switches. All in all, we aim for a permanent possibility to switch, we just aren’t offering it right now, because the current faction balance worked out positively on every server after the switch. Most indicators point to the change drastically improving your experience. This faction switch is a step in the right direction, but we are working to improve faction balance and your overall experience.
Javery_BP again. In conclusion, thanks for taking the time to read the blog, and I hope the next blog post will clear any concerns. You should expect to see information about what we plan to do with ship balancing and ship roles, as well as other core gameplay.
Blog #2: Mines & MinefieldsEdit
June 21st - Javery_BP Introduction
Hello again and welcome to the next entry in the Developer’s Blog for Battlestar Galactica. We’re hard at work on a variety of new features, and I’d like to talk to you about one of those features you should be seeing live in the near future, specifically mines.
I’ve always been dissatisfied with how mines work, I’ve wanted to update them ever since using them in the game. We’ve come up with a solution that we think will make them more interesting and provide new strategies for players.
With the redesign of an item, we took it as an opportunity change our philosophy on how we design items. We want all equipment to have significant improvements throughout the upgrade process. You may have seen this with the FTL Transponder Beacon update, and we plan to propagate that philosophy across all items. The existing small updates really make the upgrade process unrewarding with small fractional improvements where players get 0.33 points to an attribute. We have instead moved towards much more significant upgrade steps. We want each upgrade step to feel worthwhile, and you’ll see significant improvements in all aspects of an item as you upgrade it.
As we set ourselves to revamping the mines, we looked at some core problems with them. The first problem with mines is they are hard to use. It was really easy for an enemy ship to miss them. Additionally, their damage wasn’t impressive and it made them really hard to use effectively. When we examined the purpose of mines, we realized they were being used as offensive systems rather than defensive systems. The real-world purpose of a mine is to deny the area to an enemy, and we wanted to create mines that did exactly that. Mines have to be practical and deadly. Players should be afraid of them.
Second, I wanted to make sure that mines were used differently than missiles or other weapons. Mines should be used by players to in preparation for an attack rather than right in the middle of the fight. Mines are used for area denial, and I wanted to a make sure this was how they were used primarily. Sure, a mine deployment in the middle of a fight will happen, but it shouldn’t be the first instinct. These items are about planning ahead a little.
With those goals in mind, we decided to increase the lifetime of the mines. Mines will hang around in game for much longer than before. We’re also closing the damage range on the mines so that it’s a bit less wild, and becomes something you can expect to be a bit more threatening. As an example, the damage range for the light mine launcher is 50-100 points of damage, and we’ve changed that to 75-100 points of damage. While that doesn’t seem too scary, that’s a level 1 strike mine launcher, and the damage will increase as you upgrade the mine launcher.
The way ships deploy mines will vary on their class. Escorts and strikes will behave differently than lines and carriers. Escorts and strikes will deploy individual mines, and they will function a lot like they do now. The thing we’ve changed is the collision radius on the mine. We’ve tripled the collision radius to make it more likely that mines will damage their intended target. The goal is to allow escorts and strikes to drop mines near core locations or drop them at the start of a fight, and possibly pull the enemy into the mines.
The real change comes with line and carrier mine launchers. The line and capital ships will drop minefields. We’ve called the new mine launchers “Minefield Launchers” to distinguish them from the regular mine launchers. Minefields will be areas that do damage as you pass through them. This allows larger ships to drop deadly minefields to force players to change their strategy and maneuver around the minefields. Minefields aren’t small either. In fact they are quite large. The minefields effectively become walls a line or carrier can deploy to change the battlefield. Minefields are a passive defense players can deploy.
In closing, the goal is to create a dynamic battlefield where players aren’t able to always use the same strategies. With the improvement to the mines, we’re hoping we can make the game more fun, harder to predict, and provide new options for players who want to play the game in a different way.
Blog #1: All Along the WatchtowerEdit
May 31st - Javery_BP
This is Javery_BP, the lead designer on BSGO, and I’d like to welcome you to the first BSGO dev blog. On this blog we will try to give you some insight into the development of BSGO and show you some of the features we are currently working on. We want to give you a clear idea of where the game is going and allow you to get ready for any changes we’re making to the game. Also, we want your feedback. We pay close attention to the forums, and your feedback and enthusiasm is important to our development cycle. We want to make the best game possible and we can’t do it without you.
We’ve been working to create some new and interesting features and you will be seeing a wide variety of changes and features over the next few weeks. Our goal with all of these changes is to make the game more fun and engaging. We intend to give you a clear idea of how new mechanics in the game will work and how they will effect game play. By July, you should see a wide variety of new features, equipment, and game options that will enhance and improve on this great game.
FTL Transponder Redesign
Without further ado, I’d like to talk about one of the new features you’ll see in the game soon. We are working hard to redesign the FTL Transponders. You might be asking, “Why did you decided to focus on this?”
The revamp of the spawn points did a lot to deal with the spawn camping issue that was ever present in the game. We also saw use of the FTL Transponders more regularly, and that was something that was intended.
At the same time, an unintended consequence of the design was dumping people 11,000 meters from the outpost. It made moving from sector to sector an unpleasant experience. While that’s great on one level by requiring fleets to organize and coordinate, it’s a bit of a pain when you are flying around solo. So, we looked at ways to fix that issue.
While spawn camping was fixed as a whole, we also wanted to put more tactical decisions into coordinating a fleet. We wanted players to use FTL transponders regularly, because we see them as the core role of the raptor, heavy raider, and other reconnaissance ships. We wanted to encourage players to use those ships as scouts for their fleet.
With that in mind, we looked at what the various ships could do, and decided to retool the jump transponders a bit. First, we are eliminating jump transponder cells completely. Anyone who has any in their hold will be able to sell them back for a full refund. To use a jump transponder, the person who has it equipped will need to simply activate it for their group. If your fleet has a transponder active, all you have to do is open the map and choose to jump to the location.
At the same time, we recognized that sort of fleet mobility was a very powerful capability. We’ve modified the jump transponder cooldown time from 120 seconds at level 1, to 480 seconds. We’ve also greatly increased the benefits of leveling the item to level 15. By level 15, your cooldown is reduced to 240 seconds.
Additionally, we’ve always liked the special ability of the Force Recon Raptor and Raider. We’ve decided to expand that ability to all three tiers of that ship type. All Raptors and Heavy Raiders will receive a reduction on the power cost of the FTL Transponder.
- Raptor/Heavy Raider: -25 PP cost
- Advanced Raptor/Heavy Raider: -50 PP cost
- Force Recon Raptor/Heavy Raider: -75 PP cost
Jump Transponder BeaconsThat’s not all we’ve done. We also wanted to get rid of the long haul to an outpost when you jump into a sector. We’re adding a new feature called a Jump Transponder Beacon. The jump transponder beacon is a permanent FTL transponder that is present when you have an outpost ship present and sector control is at 125%. When it is active a player may jump directly to the outpost. They can even jump to it if they are in the same system. This gives the controlling faction a direct advantage when defending an outpost. This feature allows players to respond quickly to attacks and engage the enemy on their terms. Alert players can notify their faction of an impending attack and respond rapidly to the situation.
While this is a nice convenience and a great tactical advantage, the designers wanted to give the opposing faction some tactical choices as well. So, the Jump Transponder Beacon can be destroyed. A collection of more agile ships can close on the beacon, and destroy it before the opposing faction has the chance to respond. The jump beacon isn’t a fragile object though, and the Humans and the Cylons recognize the tactical power of these structures. Jump Beacons are fairly tough having 8000 hull and 25 armor. Also, the beacon respawn timer of 20 minutes.
The goal with this update is to create a deeper tactical game that gives you choices. We hope this feature both improves your game experience and expands gameplay in different ways. Thanks for taking the time to read the first blog post, and I hoped you found it interesting. Expect more blog posts where we will go into detail about how the game is changing and what to expect.