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State of the Game - Winter 2016 Edition

December 23, 2016

Greetings, Captains!

 

As promised, here is is your Quarterly State of the Game! You continue to make Battle Pirates great and, as a thank you, we wanted to take some time to layout our thoughts and plans as we head into 2017. We’re excited to share what we’ve got in store and hope you’ll let us know what you think!

 

Let’s take a look.

TL;DR
  • Event cycles will now take place over the course of three months instead of four months

  • PvE target restrictions for PvP hulls  will be introduced, starting in January

  • PvP has been healthy: Tier 6 PvP hulls are coming in 2017!

  • Mega ships will continue to be tweaked and improved, more features also in the works.

  • More Faction content next year!
     

FRESH TECH EVERY THREE MONTHS

Starting in January, we will be changing over to a 3-month long event cycle instead of the current 4-month schedule. Each cycle will still feature targets that focus on a particular class (eg, Skirmish, Assault, Siege, Garrison) with the ideal tech for engaging these targets offered each month of the cycle, during the event. We are currently planning “early access” opportunities for essential tech to be available prior to the start of each cycle, similarly to how the Hellwraith was available prior to the start of the Reaver’s Return cycle.

One of the reasons for reducing the cycles to a 3-month long cadence is so that we can be sure to rotate through all four PvE target classes in a calendar year. In addition to this change, we are planning on running an additional hull store during the year to give players an opportunity to catch up on missed tech. The hull stores will still occur on the last month of every cycle.

ENSURING TECH MAINTAINS LONG-TERM VALUE

Once an event cycle is over, the class targets will be added to the world map. These targets will be similar in style to the event targets, but modified and appropriate for non-event engagement. This will continue to ensure the long-term value of newer tech as well as give us an opportunity to create a more natural cadence for replacing World Map targets. This will help players become more accustomed to the progression from monthly event targets to day-to-day engagements on the worldmap.

REDUCING “CORE TECH” BUILD TIMES

Hulls that are specifically designed for each event cycle are considered “Specialist” hulls. One example is the Hellwraith, which found great success during the Reaver’s Return event cycle. They are designed to be the most efficient tech. When paired with a player’s skill, these hulls are specifically designed to outperform all other tech when used in an event. We’ll be incorporating ways to lower build times for upcoming Specialist hulls. Keep an eye out for lower build times on these hulls in the future, as well as tokens and offers to help lower the time to build even more!

“KEEP IT SIMPLE” WITH GENERALIST HULLS

The Zelos is a new hull that was recently featured as a Top Prize in the December event: Uprising. This hull belongs to a new class type: Generalist. Generalist hulls can be used to adapt against any target class type with the trade-off being that they will perform slightly lower when compared to Specialist class hulls. This will give players a wider selection of hulls to use in any given target. This is especially useful if you do not have a ready fleet of hulls for a type of target but want to engage in those targets.

For example: the Hellwraith will still be the best fleet to use against Skirmish targets because that is what that hull is designed to do. But, if you do not wish to build Hellwraiths, you can adapt the Zelos to work well in those targets, too. They may underperform slightly when compared to the Hellwraith, but are a perfectly viable option for engaging Skirmish targets if you do not have a Hellwraith fleet handy. As with other class-specific hulls, we’ll be periodically releasing components to help you adapt your Generalist fleet to the event cycle.

It’s worth noting that the Generalist hulls will have a higher build time than Specialist hulls but refitting a Generalist will generally cost substantially less than building a new Specialist fleet, making it an ideal option for players who wish to participate in an event but don't have the resources to build Specialists each cycle. The idea is that players should have the ability to engage in an event cycle, no matter their skill level or tech level. Generalists help to make this an option for all players.  

TIER 6 HULLS

The first Tier 6 hull will be introduced in February, starting with the Conqueror line. This will represent the next generation in powerful tech. Tier 6 hulls and components will continue to be added to the game over time to to match the new challenges created by the introduction of Outpost 9. Subsequent target updates will account for this power escalation on the high end.  

CLASS RESTRICTIONS

Earlier this year, we committed to the separation of PvE & PvP in Battle Pirates. We felt this was a necessary shift in order to create a more balanced and dynamic play experience. We did this by bypassing Conqueror and Defendor defenses in PvE targets, making these PvP class types less effective in PvE targets. To make this delineation even clearer, we will be adding class restrictions to targets. The plan is to continue to keep PvE tech for PvE content and PvP tech for PvP combat while minimizing impact to the existing player experience. Here’s how we hope to achieve that:

At the start of the January event, Conqueror and Defender class ships may no longer be used against brand new target types. The first set of targets this will affect are the January event targets. Any fleet containing a Conqueror or Defender hull will not be able to engage these new event targets.

Note that this change will not apply to new levels of existing target types. For example, if we introduce a new level of Reaver Armada, the Conqueror/Defender class restriction will not apply as that type of target type existed prior to January. It will only be for target types that are introduced after January.

In February, we will introduce the first Tier 6 Conqueror hull (see below). Starting with the February event, all PvE targets (existing or future), cannot be attacked by Tier 6 Conqueror or Defender hulls. Tier 1-5 Conqueror/Defender hulls will only be subject to restriction if the target type did not exist prior to January.

However, it is important to note that VXP weekend targets will be an exception: these targets will not be affected by any restrictions.

Here’s a  illustrate to help and Kix plan to incorporate target class restrictions:


PVP REVITALIZATION & BEYOND

PvP is going strong! We’ve seen a sizable increase in overall PvP activity (base hitting, fleet vs. fleet, and Mega battles) since the PvP/PvE split and the release of the current Conqueror hulls. We’re hoping to continue to encourage PvP engagement heading into 2017.

We learned a lot about how to design and create Conqueror & Defender hulls throughout the year. For example, a fairly stark contrast is evident when comparing the design of the Revenge to the Malice. We have worked to create an interesting and ever-evolving PvP metagame where there are meaningful decisions for both the attacker and defender. This was primarily done through different damage type deflection combinations. This enabled players to mix and match ships into a unique and unified fleet. We’re going to be taking those lessons and applying them to future PvP designs in 2017.

Win-loss ratios are looking very healthy for the current T5 / T5.5 PvP meta. Looking at the metrics for each Conqueror hull at various competitive levels, we’re seeing about a 50-50 win-loss average across all Conqueror hulls:

 

 

 

With this in mind, we released Outpost 9. Outpost 9 is a controlled and intentional power increase for base defense. This increase in power sets up bases to evolve to Tier 6-level strength. We’re going to continue to release T5.5 flagship versions of the current Conqueror hulls (such as the Harlock’s Revenge) to continue to help bridge the PvP transition from T5 to T6.

 

2017 is going to usher in the new age of PvP.  We’ll begin rolling out T6 Conqueror hulls that will begin to rival an Outpost 9 base early next year. While we will continue to use the foundation of the strength / weakness model you saw with T5 hulls, we’re hoping to start moving away from tying this power comparison together through the Bloodthirst ability. Instead, we’re looking to layer a distinct mechanic on each T6 Conqueror hull, that will work together in unique and interesting ways with other T6 Conqueror hulls.

 

MEGA SHIPS

We’re still planning additional changes both to improve combat and the Mega economy based on internal and player feedback. To give you a sense of what we’re looking at, here are some areas we’ve been investigating:

  • King of the Nexus improvements (technical issues and UI/design rules)

  • New Mega tech that gives players more control in battle and stronger benefits overall

    • One proposed idea is a Fleet Bay Module; a new piece of tech that will allow Mega Ship owners to assign a fleet they own to a lot on their Mega Ship. The player would control this fleet during Mega Ship combat and it would have a separate repair queue than the standard Dock.

  • New Mega Ship PvE Campaigns: with the ability to co-op with your own regular fleet in combat. 
     

Recently we reduced the barrier to entering the Mega Ship experience by lowering the R&D level requirement to Level 5. We still want Mega Ships to be an endgame aspiration but this lower requirement allows for even more players to participate! Expect more competitive features soon!

 

THE FUTURE OF FACTIONS

Outpost 9 allowed players to select a faction to pledge their allegiance. Doing so providing cool new visuals and turret-specific buffs to base defense. This gave players an increased sense of identity and offered some unique tactical advantages, depending on the individual player’s play style and preferences. Not only did the addition of factions change the look and feel of Battle Pirates but it also provided new ways at personalizing your base in combat. So far, the feedback has been overwhelming! We’re excited to continue to develop this feature further as we head into the new year!

We’re exploring new features and content centered around Factions. Some of these potential ideas include Faction Campaigns, Faction Wars, Mega Ship faction integration, etc. While we do not have any concrete details at this time, we’re very excited about the positive response around Factionalization from the community and hope to continue to expand on this feature in 2017.

Keep an eye out for new features for Factions in the future!

---------------

There you go, Captains! Thank you again for continuing to make the Battle Pirates the best game it can be. We look forward to seeing you in 2017!

Stay frosty.

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