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Old 12.03.2013, 16:55   #1
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Default Balancing – Interview with Game Designer Tobias_BP

Interview with Game Designer Tobias_BP

Hi Tobias_BP, Could you maybe introduce yourself briefly and tell our community about what you were doing previously?

Hi — sure, I'd be glad to! I've been working for Bigpoint for about 2 years now. I worked for a variety of different areas. While the plan was initially for me to design levels, it quickly became apparent that I'd be following another path. Balancing became my area of specialization. I especially enjoy designing new systems and analyzing and improving old ones. Existing systems in particular always present a tremendous challenge when it comes to implementing changes without upsetting the community.

I can only image! How did you come to the Battlestar Galactica Online team?

As many of our players know, BSGO is in a challenging situation. After the decision was made that further development of BSGO would be based out of Hamburg, a new team was formed and tasked with improving the game and helping it move forward. But because we were talking about various changes to existing systems, the team was looking for experts in this particular area. I had already been involved with making similar changes on other games and was looking for a new challenge, and so the pieces came together quickly.

Were you familiar with the game beforehand?

Yes, I'd created an account for myself when it launched. I was fascinated with its initial look and the possibilities it presented, which were and still are impressive for a browser game. I played the game actively for 2-3 months.

What was the first thing you did when you joined the team?

Because my knowledge of BSGO was somewhat "outdated," I started playing the game again for a while. The way to do this is really quite simple — you're not just playing the game, you're also slipping into the role of future gamers. You pay attention to the inconsistent areas, rethink systems and look for ways to make improvements. This is referred to as a "first user experience."
If you sit too long on one product, it's all too easy to overlook small things or view some things as self-evident even if they really aren't. All reasons why we are always very hungry for opinions from the community. This feedback sometimes reveals problems that we hadn't even noticed.

We've already talked about the Triad and Prophecy — can you give a bit of perspective on what lies ahead for us?

Yes, as you've reported these games are not attractive right now for our players.
And I completely understand why, based on two aspects in place right now. One is the accessibility. The player has to jump through all systems back to the fleet to be able to use the daily "free spin." So we changed that and it’s now accessible from any outpost. On the other hand, we're all in agreement that the winnings weren't attractive enough. My approach was to reduce the number of prize categories and to make each category more attractive. These changes are already implemented to BSGO and I hope they are more appealing now.
Down the road we're going to want to have another look at the entire gaming element to enhance the game experience. I think there are some things we can do to spice it up. *winking *

That's exciting news! What made you decide to improve that system first?

On the one hand we naturally had a plan for what we wanted to change and in what order, and on the other hand it offered very good insight into the overall BSGO system. Rewards that are handed out through the two minigames affect all other systems as well. Which meant for example that we discussed the fact that there are prizes for all 4 classes included in the potential winnings. Players can end up actually denied the intended feeling of success because they're awarded something incompatible with their current ship. That's definitely one item that we'll be tackling in the coming month.
As it’s just one of my current tasks, I will also mention the decoy system that will get some changes in pricing and efficiency soon as well as the boosters that might have some changes too.

Very good! What will you are looking at after that?

A few weeks ago we started several polls in our forums — one of which surveyed player satisfaction with the farm content of the game. We were surprised how much feedback and the volume of opinions we received, it was simply fantastic — thanks to all who participated. *Tobias gives a thumbs-up *
The surveys were part of a comprehensive analysis of the current economic system in BSGO and of the primary focus of the game. I think we can all agree that the focus should be on PvP activities and not putting the player to sleep in asteroid fields. *winking *
Like some of the players, we're contemplating various potential solutions, such as defensive missions for faction farm ships. In addition we'll be reviewing the game's pricing structure. Those represent two major construction projects, but we think that a certain degree of streamlining is needed here.

Does that mean everything will get cheaper?

No, I don't think I'd go that far. I think our concerns tend to be more about fairness. And while I don't want to make too many concrete promises right now, that may well mean that some aspects will get cheaper. The decoy system would be a good example for that.

We still haven't talked about on topic! What's going on with the plans for faction’s switches?

Now that's a hot-button issue — you've already filled me in about it some. I want to apologize to the community for taking so long on the issue.

We had a couple of discussions about faction imbalance in the new team and came to the fact that we will offer a faction switch soon.
As it might not be the perfect long-term solution, we will also go for other solutions here.

To mention some more details, we are actually iterating solutions for possible server merges to fill the existing systems.
There are also thoughts about more systems supporting the outnumbered faction without having equal amounts of players.

Because all in all it would be too optimistic to get the perfect equalization of factions just by the concurrent amount of players at the servers.

Another solution that will arrive soon is a change of the current faction bonus system. As the leading faction still will get a mining bonus, the outnumbered faction will also get bonuses like more experience and less repair costs.
The goal behind is to make the progress for the outnumbered faction easier, to get them back on track.

In addition to that, we’ll also improve the faction selection for new members to make the choice for the weaker faction more valuable.

Cool! One last question: What do you personally like best about the game?

As I said in the beginning, it's an extraordinary game. It sets new standards for graphics on the browser game market. But to be honest, there are a couple of aspects where we can improve the gaming experience. But the team here in Hamburg is outstanding and we share a grand vision about where we want the game to go. I think that working together with our community we're going to achieve that as well.

Thank you very much for the interview, Tobias_BP!
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Old 12.03.2013, 17:14   #2
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