announcements

Ender [1]
Administrator
rank 9
2016-07-05 23:17:58
[2 years, 13 days ago]

Over the past few weeks, though very little user-visible has changed, I've been busy refactoring some of the oldest code making this game tick - the login and authentication code. Obviously it's important to get this stuff right, so I've been doing pretty extensive testing in my local development environment before pushing to the live server. As is typical with software development though, at least a couple bugs slipped through:

  • If you logged into the same bot with multiple browsers and then logged out on one, you would enter "stealth mode": you wouldn't appear in the online list and your profile would show you as offline, but you'd still be able to act on the other browser that's still logged in. Thanks to shoyuken for reporting this.

  • The captcha page does background polling to see if you solved the captcha on another bot or tab. This background polling didn't update your "last active" time in the past, but due to a bug in the refactoring, it did, making it look like everyone was suspiciously refreshing the captcha page every 5 seconds. Thanks to ReneDescartes for reporting this.

Both of these bugs are fixed now, but be on the lookout for more subtle/non-obvious login-related bugs. There could certainly be more lurking! You can report them on this thread or in the bugs subforum if you want to help me stay organized; they'll get squashed either way though.

Finally, for those of you that read this far, I'll share why I was doing this refactoring and tease what's coming next. :) As some of you know, much of my focus lately has been on revamping the new player experience. In order for the game to be successful, the game has to be attractive to new players and successful in drawing them in. Paid advertising campaigns are useless if potential players get to the homepage and have no idea what to do. I have several plans in the works for improving the new player experience, but chief among them will be a way to try the game without registering. Not to get too technical, but this will mean having a way to substitute session-based authentication for cookie-based authentication. The refactoring I've been doing has been to make the game code agnostic to the type of authentication of the logged-in bot.

Feel free to ask questions about what's in store for the new player experience. Much, but not all of it has been fleshed out at this point and I hope to roll it all out over the coming months, with the ultimate goal of breathing some much-needed new life into the game.


 
Asmodeus [31]
rank 3
2016-07-06 18:38:49
[2 years, 12 days ago]

If we are talking about the new player experience we also need to talk about freaking. The game is already extremely harsh on new players without them finding out later on the reason they couldn't compete with half the strong bots they tried fighting wasn't because of a superior build but was caused by a loophole (or "feature") that effectively gives donators an insurmountable advantage.

I don't know about anyone else but it is the reason I am no longer able to justify the time I spent playing the game.


 
The Wilderness [39]
rank 9
2016-07-06 18:45:51
[2 years, 12 days ago]

^ +1

i had to learn this lesson the hard way by myself... we should introduce it to new players somehow.. as all the established players freak their bots.

nothing like thinking you made a good bot then losing to a bunch of freaked bots to kill your confidence... i feel like a lot of new players leave because of this broken feature.


 
MrZal2 [100]
2016-07-06 18:53:47
[2 years, 12 days ago]

I love you Asmo. I just wanted to say that. I always agree with your sexy butt.

Ender already knows my feelings on this so there's no real need for me to repeat them. If it's a starting point of what's to come, then good. Needing to keep the updates going is the hard part.


 
Ender [1]
Administrator
rank 9
2016-07-06 20:03:22
[2 years, 12 days ago]

Okay, good to know about freaking. To be clear about my focus and intentions, I actually hadn't been thinking that far ahead in terms of attraction/retention. At this point, I'm mainly thinking about (a) getting people to even try the game and (b) getting people that try the game to want to come back after their first play session. If the game were attracting dozens of new players every day, if they were returning and playing the game daily for a few weeks, but then if they were dropping off when learning about freaking, I would consider that a great problem to have; I don't think we're quite there yet though. All that being said, I do understand why this game mechanic would frustrate players that put in a few weeks to learn the basics. I'll think about what sort of balancing/changes are needed in that area.


 
Esvrainzas [163]
rank 9
2016-07-07 10:48:36
[2 years, 11 days ago]

The freaking issue has a very simple solution: increase stash space for everyone. Instead of just 1 space, grant like 6-10 spaces to everyone. That way the game would no longer be pay to win. Stars would be bought for more stash space (more complex freaking), for logo and for ordering.


 
ReneDescartes [290]
rank 9
2016-07-08 04:59:13
[2 years, 10 days ago]

Some of my thoughts on the aforementioned topics:

I completely agree that freaking is a difficult concept to understand for new players. A requirement of understanding freaking is understanding unfreaked bots2 style builds, important armours and armour sets, viable weapons, build paths, etc. Obviously if you compared the average bots4 noob with the average bots2 noob it would take the bots4 noob significantly longer to build a bot among the best at a given level.

That being said, as the average player begins to grasp the concept of freaking, they're essentially on a level playing field with the rest of the server. To be honest, only a handful of players have mastered freaking; i.e. there is a large distribution of players with little to moderate understanding of freaking. Everybody in that range gets by alright; the effect of knowing a bit more is relatively insignificant. The obvious counter to this point is that if it's so hard to understand, why is it a part of the game? I just don't think that's a valid point - the complexity of freaking is not inherently bad. Not everybody can be an expert and it's not unreasonable to expect that new players have to invest time towards getting better.

As I previously stated, only a handful of people have mastered freaking - I would say even less people truly appreciate how diverse the game has become with respect to bot building. The days of a build absolutely dominating for 10+ levels are long gone. As freaking wasn't viable on bots2, everybody was at the mercy of poorly balanced equipment and was forced into specific OP builds. I like to think of freaking as a fluid concept that has pushed people to either side of that previously OP build, essentially redistributing the 'strength' of OP armours/weapons to those around them. I might be biased but surely this is a good thing.

Back to the topic of new players and freaking; obviously the price we pay for freaking is a steeper learning curve. Is it really that different compared to bots2 though? The quote below was taken from a post above:

nothing like thinking you made a good bot then losing to a bunch of freaked bots to kill your confidence...

What new player on bots2 could expect to compete with the best without investing some serious time in the game? There are no half decent games you can expect to bring the pain on after playing it for an hour. A noob on bots4 might find it relatively harder to win (Compared to bots2), but this has always been the nature of both games - it takes time to learn them. Given the advent of buffs, the trial and error of bot building is now a non-issue; you can level up to 9 times faster with the Aura of Eternity buff (Which I've never liked). That disappointment associated with building a poor bot is therefore less of an issue as the time invested on a bot is significantly less. That being said, there need to be some changes made so that the game can move a bit more towards the old adage 'easy to learn difficult to master'.

As such, I would suggest discussion change from criticising freaking and on to how the subtleties of bots4 (Including freaking) can be better taught to new players. Improving the new player experience is without a doubt the next thing Ender should work on (Although I can neither confirm nor deny there might be another equipment overhaul in the works ;) ). No registration game play gets a tick from me. Along with that, I would suggest a slightly more detailed in game tutorial/guide than the current welcome box, with clear links to Bots Unauthorized (Particularly the build calc) and the bots4 wiki (Enter people willing to work on the wiki). The home page needs a revamp as well, the tournament section should be removed after a period of time and have its own tab (Eventually Ender, no rush). I also think there should be fewer announcements on the home page - the previous monthly winner announcement could potentially be stickied to the top of the announcements section followed only by the latest non-monthly clan winner announcement.

As a final note it's important to realise something; it's 2016. Times have changed; text based games were a niche game over a decade ago. You can't make big changes to such a game without alienating the ever dwindling core player base. Undeniably the lack of new players is a reflection of the age we live in - smart phone this, app that, virtual reality this, immersive that. There are far less incentives and reasons to grind away on a browser game nowadays.


 
The Wilderness [39]
rank 9
2016-07-08 06:53:51
[2 years, 10 days ago]

i understand how you are adamant not to make any changes towards freaking... as it appears your alliance benefits the most from the way the game is played in the current format (you know putting in 60 freaked bots in your alliance so everyone can get a tourny plat.. a broken feature that needs to change) but the point here is that new players are left in the dark about it.

i heard about freaking from my alliance mates, i never would have assumed I could wear armor that I don't have the stats for.. and even older people that played bots2 knew that was a no no as no one else could do that either.

all i'm saying is the "freaking" feature needs to be something new players know about up front. whatever Ender does to revamp the new player experience he should included freaking in it, just to even the playing field out for them (and I agree with Esv's idea of adding stash spaces for us, so everyone can freak)

also, you mentioned how no one knows everything going into a game.. so it appears you are concerned that new players being told about freaking is to much info? well.. that kind of contradicts your statement when you said "only 10 people know how to freak effectively" - if only 10 people in the game are doing it right, why do you care if new players know about it sooner? - this only seems like a tacit (or a mindset) of someone whom benefits from the current system and does not want it to change.


 
Esvrainzas [175]
rank 9
2016-07-08 07:07:56
[2 years, 10 days ago]

so it appears you are concerned that new players being told about freaking is to much info? well..

How the hell have you interpreted Rene thinks this? He even said there must be a better way to teach freaking to new players!

I dont see how Rene's opinion is different from yours. What it seems to me is that you just wrote something to attack him just because you cant beat him or escapism...


 
Esvrainzas [175]
rank 9
2016-07-08 07:13:44
[2 years, 10 days ago]

As such, I would suggest discussion change from criticising freaking and on to how the subtleties of bots4 (Including freaking) can be better taught to new players.

Here... so stop criticise just because you like to criticise. I dont see any problem in joining 60 GOOD bots to participate in the tourney and get a plat the ones who make top10 on their cat. However Ender said it isnt how he wants it to be. So, he should adress this problem and forbiden freaking isnt the solution... freaking as rene said is great to bots building. It makes you play with bots calc endlessly pursuing the best build.


 
Esvrainzas [175]
rank 9
2016-07-08 07:18:43
[2 years, 10 days ago]

I never would have assumed I could wear armor that I don't have the stats for..

You need to have the required stats to equip them... its not like you are putting a obliterator in a lvl 20 bot... the thing is that after equipping the final armours you dont have the stats required for them... but see this way: the stats requirement are just to equip them not to use them ;)


 
The Wilderness [39]
rank 9
2016-07-08 07:23:00
[2 years, 10 days ago]

of course you do not see any problem with it, because you apart of the few that benefit from the system the way it is. the rich get richer in this game, and if you're rich you are blind to poverty.

we can respectfully agree to disagree here. you do not agree with how i interrupt Rene's statement and that's okay - we all have opinions.

at least we can (hopefully) all agree that the concept of freaking and basic mechanics of it should be taught to new players - it's for Ender to decide how he wants to teach this.. really no discussion on that needed.


 
The Wilderness [39]
rank 9
2016-07-08 07:27:43
[2 years, 10 days ago]

and esv i do not want to spend time debating opinion.. i made my statement, if you don't agree with it fine, but at least Ender hears my voice (and the voice of the many that do not benefit from the current system)

and I remember in bots2 it was taboo to equip armor, then change your stats so you didn't have the required str. in bots2 if this happened the armor would break instantly... it was taboo, no one did it.

now in bots4 it is not taboo, but the only way of people figuring that out is either by word of mouth from fellow players, or trying it for themselves.


 
Esvrainzas [175]
rank 9
2016-07-08 07:44:28
[2 years, 10 days ago]

It is as easy as to add a sentence in the beginner's box (the one displayed until lvl 20) like this one:

"To equip armors, weapons or shields you need to have the required stats. However, after equipping it, you no longer need to match those requirements."

Simple


 
Sully [127]
rank 9
2016-07-08 09:36:53
[2 years, 10 days ago]

Freaking isn't a big deal anymore since people use dumpers instead of attacking other people's bots


 
MrZal2 [100]
2016-07-08 15:21:36
[2 years, 10 days ago]

How did this become a freaking thread anyway? Freaking is about the least broken thing on this game. If anything, the ability to dump without the target taking damage to their armor or gaining exp if more broken. If the freaked/regular bot's armor would break when dumpers attacked it then people would only find freaking useful in tournaments as it would break too fast in a regular clan. But of course people could troll and destroy the armors with whores. So overall all three things come together to make a super broken thing that really has no fix.

If I had to make an analogy, it'd be like a boxer fighting a boxer yet the better boxer takes no damage. The attacker wears himself out but the better boxer just sits there and just gains wins against weaklings by doing nothing. The fix would be to have a better boxer fight him aka freaked vs freaked but they'd wear out fast and in this analogy, be broken and need new armours + stars normally. Any way you look at this problem you must admit it's all kinda stupid. In bots2 with OP builds like say answerer vs answerer, there was a 50/50 or so fighting chance and your armours wouldn't break that fast, so you actually did attack bots similar to your own for cs if you were desperate or were in real wars. It's just that some OP builds were too OP. But since that wasn't the main point of the game really, we used whores to gain cs and fight one another, which overall combined with the simpler build system, was easier for new players to take in.

tl;dr: Freaking isn't that important to success. What is more important to success is having a simple system so both new players and old players have some form of balance when they enter a clan and can learn what to do faster than having to worry about builds constantly. Most new players will more than likely make it to level 20, join a clan, not know what to do, and leave the game. Teaching them how to focus on energy, clans, levels, wins, ratio whores, and builds (which are all very different things from an end-goal perspective) should be priority.

Also maybe adding something like a 7-day protection or even better, a no onlining shield or something until level 50 or 75 or so (where the xp needed to level is higher) would be helpful. Don't want them to be scared off super fast. I like the latter option more btw.

Mind you none of my ideas ever make it into the game so what do I care really. I just like typing.


 
Ender [1]
Administrator
rank 9
2016-07-10 18:54:01
[2 years, 8 days ago]

This is some good discussion! I think good points are being raised on both sides, so thanks all for chiming in. Here are some quick thoughts of mine on freaking:

For those that have been reading the forums for a few years, you've probably seen me defend it a bit from time to time. For a game that ultimately involves a lot of repetitive clicking, I've always been a fan of anything that can add a new layer of complexity so that real knowledge/skill becomes a gameplay factor in an otherwise pretty simple game. I'm generally okay with the game having a learning curve, especially one that's steeper towards the end. I do want the game to be easier for complete newbies to pickup. As Rene quoted, "easy to learn, difficult to master".

Of course freaking is most easily done if you have extra stash spaces, and therefore stars. I've argued that it's not impossible to freak without stars, but that's not completely fair. I think that's true to some extent, but it's obviously easier to freak with stars. That's a delicate line for me to walk - my intention is not for this to be a pay2win game (like almost any popular mobile "game"), but I do want the benefits of donating to be tangible. I'm definitely open to the idea of making freaking more approachable by making it more obvious that it exists, incorporating info about how to go about doing it into the starter guide, and so on. I'm even open to the idea of more stash space for non-starred bots, but that one will take some more thought before I act on it, so no promises.

Regarding temporarily-swollen clans entering tournaments, yes, that's not intended and I do intend to patch it. I think that's orthogonal from freaking, but I know it's top-of-mind for some folks.

But yes, this is all getting way ahead of my current plans. Let's get to the point where 100 (or even 10!) real people are joining the game every day and there are huge centithreads from them complaining about freaking. That would be a huge success. :)


 
Sully [127]
rank 9
2016-07-11 00:38:46
[2 years, 7 days ago]

Sounds good :)


 
The Oak [69]
2016-07-23 04:14:22
[1 year, 360 days ago]

The only way to get players back is to reset the server. Why!? Because nobody wants to compete against players who have already +100 dumpers, freaked builds and lots of stars. New players can only enjoy playing at low levels, but once they hit +50lvl they can't do nothing against freaked builds and other players who have already bunch of dumpers. Also there is no point to play solo because it will take a few years to get even close to 395lvl.........

just my 2cents.


 
MrZal2 [100]
2016-07-23 09:20:08
[1 year, 360 days ago]

A good solution to that The Oak is something Diablo 2 has had for years, seasons/a ladder. Every say, 6 months to a year people sign up for the ladder/season and only characters made for it can play. Everyone can keep their accomplishments on the non-ladder. But the problem with this game is that unlike Diablo 2, there's no defined ending. It's level 99 on Diablo 2 + it has ladder-only stuff that transfers to non-ladder.

If a ladder were to happen here it would only be a bunch of level 20-50s and wouldn't be very entertaining. Something fundamental like having level matter more in the energy calculation would have to take place or something similar.

AKA this game is too simple to just throw everyone's work away. Maybe with more complex systems we could work it out, like say, we had PvE and ladders combined or more.


 
Fishwick [134]
Moderator
rank 2
2016-07-23 10:13:36
[1 year, 360 days ago]

I'd actually be up for something like a mega revamp where established players don't get their dominance, but I don't think it should diminish what people have achieved so far.

Maybe a clone (blue) server that resets monthly and gives plats/rewards to the "main" accounts?


 
The Oak [69]
2016-07-23 13:16:37
[1 year, 360 days ago]

I do agree with Fishwick, it's quite unfair for others. Maybe we should vote and see what others think ? http://www.strawpoll.me/10816083

I really like the idea of making another server, but I don't think Ender would do that.


 
Ender [1]
Administrator
rank 9
2016-07-25 22:28:07
[1 year, 358 days ago]

I actually always liked the balance bots2 struck between rewarding long-time players while making it possible for newer players to compete. A lot of other web games do frequent 100% resets which IMO hurt long-term retention.

I also don't think the game currently has a large enough playerbase to warrant a second server. Dividing the existing playerbase at this point would hurt more than help IMO. I'd be open to additional servers with more frequent resets, different rulesets, etc. later on though when the immediate goal of simply getting more people to register for the game and return is met.


 
MrZal5 [33]
2016-07-27 18:39:39
[1 year, 356 days ago]

Question: Would it be possible to have some sort of mass-create feature with this new system? One of the most annoying things about our registration system is that you have to make one bot at a time yet our energy system is set up to have either as few bots as possible (dumpers) or as many bots as possible (whores). Either way it's annoying to have to make 20 bots bots one at a time.

I'm not suggesting making 500 at a time or something, but 20-100 would be helpful. Just thought I'd bring this up since you're working on it.


 
Ender [1]
Administrator
rank 9
2016-07-27 21:14:23
[1 year, 356 days ago]

I recognize the pains of creating/managing a fleet of bots, which is a somewhat common use case. I've had an idea in the back of my head for awhile now about changing the user model so that you have 1 single login which controls N bots instead of N logins which control N bots. This is more in line with how the game actually gets played. This enables other sorts of goodies like bot trading being something the game can support as a first-class feature. I also imagine it would be easier to create bots (no need to enter password/email) with this setup, so while I don't have plans to allow you to create N bots at a time, there are rough (very) future plans to make bot creation/management simpler.


 
Esvrainzas [245]
rank 9
2016-09-13 11:20:10
[1 year, 308 days ago]

Feel free to ask questions about what's in store for the new player experience. Much, but not all of it has been fleshed out at this point and I hope to roll it all out over the coming months, with the ultimate goal of breathing some much-needed new life into the game.

So, what's in store besides trying the game without registering? Some kind of tutorial where the new player must click certain links with a brief description of that section? I believe this would be hard to do though... well tell us a bit more! :D


 
Ender [1]
Administrator
rank 9
2016-09-13 20:57:36
[1 year, 308 days ago]

I'm kicking around the idea of some sort in-game tutorial, more general hand-holding for the first few levels, and so on. The high level idea is to streamline the start of the game so that enough of the game can easily be seen within the first 5 minutes. Hopefully there will be enough interesting stuff to draw curiosity for new potential players to return to the game after that. It will probably take some experimentation to get right, so the exact details are a bit unknown at this point.