First off, we want to apologize again for the issues that most of you experienced after the v104 patch was released. Usually when there’s an issue with a patch, the devs are able to quickly push out a hotfix. But in this instance, the nature of the issue went much deeper and as such we were unable to ready a fix quickly enough. In the future we’ll exercise greater caution with the timing of a patch release and limit the number of risky features in a single patch.
Patch v104 Bugs
On Friday we applied a hotfix to the servers which appears to have fixed the issues with teleporting and invisible fleets. There is one side-effect though: fleets will probably remain affected by the issue until they are moved and the client is then restarted. So we recommend moving all of your fleets a bit and then restarting the client. If you have done this and still have problems with teleporting or invisible fleets, please let us know on the forum.
We are working right now on a followup patch that will address other bugs and changes to the Play with Friends which we’ll go over now.
Play with Friends
We’ve been considering the next steps for ‘Play with Friends’ and have planned the changes we think are necessary based on the feedback we’ve seen. But before we go over that, we want to provide some background as to why we added this feature in the first place.
Why Play with Friends is Important
Outscape’s virality determines how many new players existing players will bring to the game. If virality is low, it’s difficult to build the momentum necessary for long term growth, and we have to allocate a large portion of our resources to bringing new players to the game (and if we stop doing so growth grinds to a halt). However, if virality is high, the momentum of new players coming to the game quickly builds under its own steam, and we’re able to instead allocate most of our resources to development.
The Play with Friends feature was designed to increase Outscape’s virality by encouraging players to bring other players – their friends – into the game. Because the more players that invest into Outscape by purchasing a copy, the more resources we’ll have to reinvest back into development and the better the game will be – and sooner.
Plus, it’s something players have been asking for for a long time – to be able to play alongside their friends (without having to join at the same time as each other). And although alliances would also help increase Outscape’s virality, due to the current team size we can’t switch the developers to focus on alliances yet, and we needed to try to do something about that by attempting to increase virality with an easier-to-do feature.
Exploiting Play with Friends
As has been pointed out by the community, the first version of Play with Friends can be exploited (by using other accounts to feed a single account ‘home planets’). We saw two suggestions from the community proposing how to address this:
1. Keep the existing mechanic, but give the invited friend the planet ‘as it is’ instead of turning it into a home planet
The problem with this approach is that it’s much more likely the new player would have a poorer first experience of the game – which would work against the virality we’re trying to generate with this mechanic. Because the early game can be testing as it is, even with optimum start conditions. And while starting next to a friend can have its upsides, it also has its downsides e.g. it’s harder to expand as both players are sharing the same territory. Whereas two players joining the game at the same time and spawning in adjacent spawn slots have the benefit of not having to share their territory but still get to enjoy playing alongside each other.
2. Abandon the new mechanic and use sectors instead
We did consider doing Play with Friends with sectors (dividing the galaxy up into a grid and letting players choose which sector to spawn in to). But while sectors are a planned feature, we didn’t have enough time available to consider doing them now, and sectors will probably have to come with a new galaxy.
Improving Play with Friends
Instead, we think that the best way forward for now is to focus on preventing the mechanic we’ve already developed from being exploited.
Prevent home planets from being acquired by another player in the condition of a home planet:
1. Prevent ALL home planets from being abandoned
- Disable the ‘stand down defenses’ option for home planets
- Block a player from removing the last colonists from their home planet to abandon it
- Also block a player from removing the last colonists from their only planet to reset themselves
- This means a home planet can only transfer owner through an invasion; but
2. Home planets captured in an invasion are devalued in the process
- The first time a home planet (a planet with a T3 ODS) is lost in an invasion:
- Remove: T3 ODS, key infrastructure, a large portion of the population, a large portion of the surface resources; and randomly zero several of the unmined deposits
- The resulting condition of the planet would be no better than many other planets that would be free to colonize and the incentive at the heart of the exploit is removed
- We could have limited this to only happen to home planets generated with a spawn code, but thought it made sense to broaden it to all home planets because:
- It adds a layer of newbie protection by making home planets less appealing targets
- Home planets were intended to boost the original owner, not over-strengthen capturing players
3. A galaxy joined using a spawn code can’t be joined again using a spawn code within 5 days
- Because the two points above remove the ability/incentive to abuse spawn codes this may be overkill, but we’re happy to add it as a further check
Note: for points 1 and 2 a planet is considered a home planet while it has a T3 ODS. Because if the planet changes hands in an invasion, the T3 ODS and other resources are removed such that the planet is then no longer considered a home planet (and if it then changes owner again no special rules apply).
The above points are what we can do right away, but we’ll continue to monitor usage of this feature and work with the community over time until we feel that the feature works. A big thank you to the community for being so vocal and constructive on this matter in order to protect the integrity of the game. We realize there are a lot of good opinions on what to do, and that unfortunately we won’t be able to please everyone.
We’ll start on the above next week so would expect these changes to be ready in a new patch very soon.
Thanks everyone, have a good weekend and we’ll see you next week!
– The Outscape dev team