Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

So I'm playing Playerunknown's Battleground

I promised I won't touch more pre-released games. But I had no game at all and not only the player count was very high for PUBG, but also the top dev (Brendan Greene aka PlayerUnknown) did something shocking: he enforced the game rules. In the age of rigging, where devs openly share beers with "content creators", 24/7 bots swarm the games unmolested and you can get away with streaming exploiting, such approach is very welcomed.

On the one hand, the game is very alpha. I mean on peak time 1 out of 3 games crashed on me. Often I can't even get to the "send crash report" launcher screen because the screen freezes, the sound repeats and not even Ctrl-Alt-Del or Alt-F4 works, I have to reset the computer. It's particularly annoying when the game is going well. Off-hours it's better, so it's probably load related. There is also no reconnect feature like in League of Legends, where if you restart your computer, log in again, you rejoin the game. Oh, and crashed games count into your statistics as losses, even if you crash before the match starts (airfield before the airplane fly).

On the other hand the game is/will be the biggest hit in the year, one that will completely redefine not just the FPS genre, but all kinds of multiplayer PvP games. Post will come tomorrow (spoiler: the genius is using the same blueprint that I proposed half decade ago, probably without ever hearing about me). The implementation is also great, there are awful lot of different weapons, tools and vehicles. The playground limiting feature is also spot on. I guess I'll stay here for a while.

The match scheme is simple: 100 (minus those who crashed pre-match) airdrop to an island with nothing. You have to search buildings for weapons, armor, medkits and such. Then it's free for all. The goal is to live as long as possible, preferably being the sole survivor. The island is huge and probably you wouldn't see another player for a day, but a force field gradually shrinks, killing everyone outside, forcing everyone to the move. Finally the zone is tiny, forcing the last survivors to fight till the end. Despite I play only for 4 days, 81 rounds (about 20 crashes), I already managed to get to top 10 13 times and #230K on wins (out of about a million). I've yet to be the last survivor (highest rank was #3), but I'm working on it.

So far I didn't find any persistence between matches, but there are official toplists for both winning and killing and assuming the game will be huge (it already is), it will become a social reward "OMG ima l33t" without any further in-game reward. If the only way to get this wanted reward is playing well, I already have a project!

Now the bad: the above listed match scheme is horribly easy to rig. The game has World of Tanks like detection scheme (I either see the opponent or not, depending on concealment) so they can decide he sees me and I don't see him. They can also center the shrinking zone on a player they want as winner. They can generate the randomly distributed weapons to spawn right in the building the selected winner(s) land on while other buildings have only crap. Assuming the game has no microtransactions, the company has no reason to rig. If they will have, they will do, with only the "personal ethics" of Mr Greene standing in the way. I wonder how much trust I can place into one guy, when my only information about him is once standing up against a single exploiting streamer. Individual rigging is less likely since there is no gold to sell in the game and the only thing you can sell is highly ranked accounts. This doesn't really allow botfarms, as botting many accounts to the top in a PvP game is probably very hard. Worst case some exploiters who do it for personal rank get away with cheating due to GM friends or devs giving hints how to exploit. Nothing massive.

Update: this is my luck. They announced real money loot crates. The game is still Early Access, so we can hope it won't be in the final version. There is hope, because they are obviously scared of backslash as they announced it "just for event and charity". Of course if it's left in the game when published and they actually collect money for loot crates, I quit and advise against the game as "easy way to rig" + motive = "they rig".

While this could be 30 Euros scammed out from me, I still find some value in the stuff I'll write tomorrow. While this particular game might go down the toilet, the genuine idea can live on.


maxim said...

If you really want to add persistent benefits, you can try and do it by starting to run contests and stuff.
I know this sounds like work, but that's how a normal eSport scene usually is created

Anonymous said...

"Assuming the game has no microtransactions, the company has no reason to rig."

Not really correct. Helping out bad/noob players a little, but not too much, keeps them playing the game where they might otherwise quit. This keeps the game population high and keeps a healthy mix of noobs/bads for veteran players to shoot at. No one wants to buy a dead game or game where they will get pwned over and over by small # of veterans.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: that can be done by good old ELO system. Baddies play with baddies, good ones play with good ones, everyone has equal winrate but good ones have higher rating (more rewards, bragging points)

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine had a very similar crashing issue until he updated his graphic card's drivers. Worth a try.

Anonymous said...

uh oh,


Gevlon said...

@Anon: the game is in early access and continue to "evolve". Obviously, if they implement real money purchase loot crates, I'm out and will advise everyone to do so, because of obvious motive + ability for rigging. Crates that are available for playing and not by paying are just retarded and not motivate for rigging.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any interest in the duo/squad modes?

Gevlon said...

If I stay in the game (meaning no lockboxes or other microtransactions) I will. Currently I'm fine with only single player.

Smokeman said...

Microtransactions are a cancer.

Even cosmetics are problematic. Sure, it LOOKS benign... you're not buying power, after all. But you're buying value to your account. And if there is a "rarity" mechanic involved, as in you could win the lottery and get the "super skin" that will drive the value of your account way up... well, you see where this is going. Smurf accounts and e-bay.

Even if that wasn't enough... there's Gevlon's conspiracy theory, which... actually... is pretty good. "Free Market" means market innovation in the search of profits. If ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is have analysts look at the player data (Which you know is stored, or will be when this gets going.) you have a situation where targeting players who have a high chance to pay for lockboxes to give them extra resources is inevitable.

Sure, there will be rumors and backlash... some guy on redit will do a "lockbox study" to determine the fairness, and some of the people that weren't going to buy lockboxes will quit because of it, but a lot more will buy lockboxes to get the perceived chance of actual power upgrades. It's human nature. All you need is anonymity and plausible deniability.

There will be a threshhold, determined by trial and error, of what the max profit over advantage given by lockbox purchases is and companies will pay for this data. It's win win for the monetizers.

It's like those god damned loyalty cards. The only winning move is not to play. But that's not even an option, as your fellow humans are statistically too stupid to see through these ploys.

As such? I think AAA group games are going to die. They will be monetized into the stone age, and when enough low rent alternatives like this one get popular and AREN'T monetized past the purchase / small subscription stage, they will dry up.

Antze said...

Wait a sec, is anything wrong with lockboxes with cosmetic items only? While rigging with those is possible and probably provides some financial benefit, it doesn't harm other players (or the game) in any meaningful way.

I thought the wrong thing is when they put some P2W inside a lockbox, then rigging it makes perfect sense alongside with corruption.

NB: I didn't check their announcement with enough diligence so might miss something, but I saw words like "skins", "cosmetic" all over the text.

Gevlon said...

@Smokeman: cosmetic lockbox buyers being scammed isn't that bad. What's bad is below:

@Antze: the cosmetic item (lockbox or not) buyer is more valuable to the developer than the non-buyer. So dev should cater to him. How? By giving him free wins by messing with combat RNG: finding weapons, better concealment rolls, shots fired in the general direction of the enemy hits.

Antze said...

Then lockbox type is not a problem at all. Any microtransaction is.

Anonymous said...

Concealment like WoT? Is there a source for that? I've never experienced that personally. Just people using the third person camera to see around corners.

Xmas said...

I can see your concern for the devs manipulating the game to benefit crate key buyers. I don't think that will happen, but you never know.

Playing the game for the past few weeks, I don't see too much RNG in the bullet physics. You can actually watch the bullets travel if you watch it through a scope. It's not like CS or other shooting games with instant bullet travel.

As for the other things, it's possible that the devs could manipulate the item drops and circle closing to cater to clothes horses. If anyone noticed, even subconsciously, that this was happening, it would be detrimental to those players. You don't want players thinking "track suit, good loot and circle center!"

Gevlon said...

@Antze: the most basic statement: if two players pay different amount to the studio there is motive for helping the more paying.

@Anon: because you were never hit in the forest by someone you can't see. Once I was walking in the forest and all of a sudden a prone player was right front of me who wasn't one server tick later. I mean like 2 meters ahead lying in the grass in a clothing that was much different from grass and in reality I'd saw him from half mile.

@Xmas: they probably do it like League of Legends. Buying a track suit won't get you infinite buff, just for a few games to instantly feel good after your purchase. An hour later you can be the same.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand the game is/will be the biggest hit in the year, one that will completely redefine not just the FPS genre, but all kinds of multiplayer PvP games.

redefine how?
faster? nope. more realistic? nope. more tactical? nope. more multiplayer? nope. maybe better netcode? nope. more survival? nope. better graphics then? nope. what is it then?
After id-soft and valve defined 3d FPS there is nothing to redefine. just some RPG element here or some lockbox or puzzle over there and crank up the textures for those 4k feels.

let me guess, your first FPS that hooks you? it is redefining your perspective on FPS. ok. good. have fun fragging.

within some weeks you will get good even as an oldfart that never touched FPS before. and make sure to mute ingame voice when you start rising in elo and yes this will be rigged towards approximate 40:60 K:D ... calling it, because this is common practice.

If they will have, they will do, with only the "personal ethics" of Mr Greene standing in the way
If you don't win. the game isn't "fun". has nothing to do with ethics all to do with sales. if the game is less "fun", people tend not to buy it and play it. from studies on children it is at least 2/3 win vs 1/3 lose to keep children playing on the losing side. if one of them wins to much the other losing kid will not engage in play, roughly speaking.

and no there is no hope.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon - The way the grass conceals people, the closer you are to them the harder they are to actually see. I don't believe they make people invisible, it could be the settings you're using. This is anecdotal, obviously, but I was observing a buddy since I was dead. He ran past a prone individual, but I saw the person clearly. My settings are turned way down so foliage isn't as thick. That could be a large factor. I have been killed by people I haven't seen before, but since I play duo or squad most of the time I can see while observing my teammates where the person was. The character models blend in a lot more than your typical FPS.