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BugsPray

Turning frustration into constructive feedback

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I had and have high hopes for Reflex. I've been following the devs since their Kickstarter and being a Tribes guy, generally like skill-based shooters with deep movement systems. However, I've had a rather frustrating experience today that mirrors pretty much every experience I've had with Reflex since I installed it quite a long time ago. Usually when I try to talk to the players in game about why I get frustrated, I get called a newb, or "this game's not for you", or get run out of the server by egos that cant handle criticism of the game they love. I'll admit I haven't dumped a ton of hours into Reflex. Steam says 11 hours. I've spent probably just as much time watching videos on the subreddit or other places. But the amount of time I've spent over 11 hours doesn't really matter. 11 hours is a lot for a game I routinely get frustrated with.

Reflex has the same core issues as Tribes and Tribes-like games have: There's a hardcore community that is deep rooted, opinionated, and very skilled. These people tend to want the best for the game and are often the first to volunteer to teach people to play. However, they're also the first to downplay any feedback that deviates design from their vision/expectations for a high-skilled FPS.

Here's the core issue I have with it: 1v1 dueling is super fun except for the snowball mechanics. I'm ok with being the terribad kid in the server getting his ass handed to him, but if I don't have an even playing field then I get discouraged and leave. The only even playing field in 1v1 is the first spawn. After that it's largely about controlling the items around the map. That's not to say you can never come back from being on the bottom end of that, but it makes it incredibly difficult for a new player to do so when the veteran is dominating entirely. It's incredibly discouraging when I land several consecutive rocket direct hits and get out-armored because I only had spawn health. It feels overwhelming and hopeless. I don't really want the veteran to let up, I just want the game mechanics to change. I can understand that at a high level of play this stuff adds depth. I don't really care about the high level. I want to have fun in the game I bought. I just don't have the time or patience for it when there is no satisfaction even for mechanically being better than someone for a brief moment because they snowballed.

  • Gun play: Fantastic
  • Movement: Fantastic
  • Visuals: Like them
  • Snowballing: Makes me quit every time

That's my sample size of one feedback for the devs.

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I've rather felt coldness and disinterest coming from veterans that aren't actively taking care of newbies more than disdain. But that's life.

I guess you get harsher reactions for being a newbie criticizing  a difficult core gameplay for being difficult, and that's what you are and perceived as.

However, I think the coming custom ruleset make maintaining control more difficult/breaking control more easy, try to play it if you haven't.

On the other hand, Quake Champions with micro stacks don't have this snowball aspect, maybe that's what you want... :D

 

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Honestly, it really does sound like the game (or duel) isn't for you. I'm pretty sure at least 95% of the people who've played this game before can agree that the game is difficult to pick up and learn, and it really is understandable, but the problem here is that "snowballing" a lead is just a core part of what makes this game so appealing to the hardcore, competitive audience - you know, the audience that this game was built for?

On 12/16/2017 at 11:11 AM, BugsPray said:

...

That's not to say you can never come back from being on the bottom end of that, but it makes it incredibly difficult for a new player to do so when the veteran is dominating entirely. It's incredibly discouraging when I land several consecutive rocket direct hits and get out-armored because I only had spawn health. It feels overwhelming and hopeless. I don't really want the veteran to let up, I just want the game mechanics to change. I can understand that at a high level of play this stuff adds depth. I don't really care about the high level. I want to have fun in the game I bought. I just don't have the time or patience for it when there is no satisfaction even for mechanically being better than someone for a brief moment because they snowballed.

...

I'm sorry, but in what respected competitive game can you expect a new player killing/beating a veteran? Starcraft? Street Fighter? League of Legends? Chess? You're supposed to lose hard and get frustrated - you don't know what you're doing or what you're supposed to do. It's just the nature of 1v1 games.

Giving feedback is fine, but the reason people disregard feedback like this is because it's generally coming from someone that hasn't or isn't willing to spend a considerable amount of time learning the game and someone who doesn't quite understand what the end result would be if feedback like this would be taken seriously into consideration. I think that there should be more hand holding for new players and that there's a lot of things the devs can do to help new players learn the game, but dumbing down the game to appeal to a wider demographic isn't one of them.

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Yep, what @LKO-,- said basically. The position you're in is what EVERYONE has been through. Anyone who is currently playing has been in the exact same situation you're in at some point. 

My recommendation would be to find people who are at your own skill level or have friends playing/learning along with you. There's a newbies channel in the official Reflex discord. There's also sometimes newbie cups where you can meet other similarly skilled players. Ask your friends from other games to play some matches with you. Maybe play some FFA instagib or CTF games to begin with. Or use some of the mutators (like Low Gravity Instagib is hella fun). When you've got an opponent that's at a similar skill level, the game will be much more enjoyable.

 

Edited by lolograde

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Yeah, Lolo's got it - the solution is to not play veterans or people that are a 100 times better than you, find someone that is close to your skill level and keep getting better with them. That's what makes the game fun.

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The game can be frustrating for sure when you don't know what you're doing wrong, but removing the armor mechanic would be a horrible mistake. It is such a huge part of the game.  If you want some advice/help, you can hit me up on steam http://steamcommunity.com/id/eerad.  This game gets a lot more fun the better you get at it in my opinion, which is kind of a blessing and a curse.  It sucks for new players sort of, but it is awesome to see yourself improve and do things effortlessly that you before thought was impossible.

I wouldn't call the game snowbally so much as I would call it a game of swings.  The player with the armor control definitely has the advantage, but he is only ever 3 or 4 rockets/one bad engagement away from being the one out of control.  Hope you continue on with the game, glhf. ))

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Appreciate all of the responses. Addressing some comments here pretty late.

On 12/18/2017 at 2:49 AM, LKO-,- said:

Honestly, it really does sound like the game (or duel) isn't for you. I'm pretty sure at least 95% of the people who've played this game before can agree that the game is difficult to pick up and learn, and it really is understandable, but the problem here is that "snowballing" a lead is just a core part of what makes this game so appealing to the hardcore, competitive audience - you know, the audience that this game was built for?

Hey if the game isn't for me then the game isn't for me. I can accept that. But that's also why I addressed this feedback to the devs and not the community. Consider it easy market research. I am actually smack dab in the middle of the hardcore/competitive audience and my purchase/playing history over the last 2 decades proves it. In fact, in the games I spent the most time competing in, 1v1 was my preferred mode. If snowballing is a mechanic that sells this game for people, and those are the most important people to the devs, then I will bow out and leave you all to it.

On 12/18/2017 at 2:49 AM, LKO-,- said:

I'm sorry, but in what respected competitive game can you expect a new player killing/beating a veteran? Starcraft? Street Fighter? League of Legends? Chess? You're supposed to lose hard and get frustrated - you don't know what you're doing or what you're supposed to do. It's just the nature of 1v1 games.

I believe I clearly stated that I did not expect to beat the veteran as a new player. I just expect to achieve some success now and then and really what I mean by that is kill them once if I outperform them mechanically.

On 12/18/2017 at 2:49 AM, LKO-,- said:

Giving feedback is fine, but the reason people disregard feedback like this is because it's generally coming from someone that hasn't or isn't willing to spend a considerable amount of time learning the game and someone who doesn't quite understand what the end result would be if feedback like this would be taken seriously into consideration. I think that there should be more hand holding for new players and that there's a lot of things the devs can do to help new players learn the game, but dumbing down the game to appeal to a wider demographic isn't one of them.

As it turns out, most gamers aren't willing to spend "considerable amount of time learning the game" before abandoning it. And while you may think that's fine and Reflex isn't for most gamers, it does need to be for some number of gamers that can sustain the title. It's not a coincidence that the last updates to the game coincide with a steep drop in player counts.

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Who knows if the reasons I specified are the reasons why there's lackluster player counts. I'd certainly contend that accessibility is a huge issue. What we do know is that if you fully monetize 10% (generous) of the 2000 active players (est. by SteamSpy) at $100 (rough estimate of goods sold in the store * 50% [also generous]) you're looking at funding one decent programmer for 6 months of work. That's clearly not sustainable for getting Reflex where it needs to be to be healthy, and to give the devs a return on their hard work (read: financial stability).

Like I said, I'm a sample of n=1. I'd wager this isn't the first nor last time you've heard this though. If no one wants this feedback or believes it's valuable then I'm fine uninstalling and you'll never hear from me again. It's not a "I'm going to take my ball and go home" thing. If you're comfortable with the above, then no amount of my feedback is going to change your mind anyway so I just won't belabor the point further and wont expect things to change.

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@BugsPray Everyone's opinion should be heard. And no one is disregarding what you're saying. I  understand where you're coming from, and you're right this conversation has been had too many times. Reflex has a lot of features to help newbies get their feet wet: there is a "casual" gameplay ruleset that's intended to make the game easier for new players, there are casual modes like Instagib and FFA where you can beat more experienced players occasionally, a training mode, and tons and tons of online tutorials/guides to help you learn how to play Reflex Arena. 

I think you're thinking about this the wrong way. It's like anything where you try, struggle, and fail until you finally succeed. When you finally succeed, the elation and enjoyment is overwhelming. That's the part that is not being communicated very well. This game (and other similar games) make you work for it. Hard. Some people do not work for it because maybe they don't understand what it takes, the challenge looks too daunting, or don't really know what the rewards are. And it takes a certain kind of personality to want to play an Arena FPS, especially 1v1. There's definitely an elitism vibe with regards to this genre because of that: people who are good at it have generally (not always) put in shitloads of time to be good. It doesn't come easy and that's precisely why some people are junkies for it. 

It does make me very depressed looking at Reflex's numbers. But you can also look at Quake Champions, which has millions of dollars, dozens of programmers/artists/community managers/etc., some mechanics dumbed down to make it much easier for newbies, and a big name publisher behind it and it is still not doing much better than Reflex. And definitely not well at all relative to other games like CSGO, LoL, PUBG, etc.. My opinion is that the AFPS genre is simply "out of fashion" with the general interest (hopefully that changes someday). 

Anyhow, I hope you stick with it. It gives me no pleasure seeing new players get fed up and leave. Nor do I like new players to feel their opinions don't matter or don't feel welcomed by the community. If you want to casually enjoy this game, that's definitely possible by playing Instagib, FFA, or play 1v1 with the casual gameplay rulesets. But if you really want the full experience, and enjoy the game to the full extent it can offer enjoyment, then turn on "Eye of the Tiger", get obliterated, frustrated, tilted, raged, and keep doing it until the lightbulb goes on. And then you'll see what the fuss is about. 

Edited by lolograde

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Hey again, glad you came back with a follow-up. I'll clear up some things as well..

17 hours ago, BugsPray said:

I believe I clearly stated that I did not expect to beat the veteran as a new player. I just expect to achieve some success now and then and really what I mean by that is kill them once if I outperform them mechanically.

The point stands either way. Compare it to other competitive titles again - even if you outperformed someone mechanically in Street Fighter, Quakes, solo laning phase in League of Legends, etc... you are very unlikely to get anything out of it because, again, you don't know what you're supposed to do. You can land every 1-frame link, have superb reaction time and consistently perform amazing combos in something like SFIV, but if you don't understand when to do them (like when it's safe...) or what to do in general, you won't have any success against a veteran player. Reflex isn't the only game to do this. You'd obviously get a fair amount of success in something like CS with great mechanics, but that's only because the time to kill in that game is non-existent.

17 hours ago, BugsPray said:

As it turns out, most gamers aren't willing to spend "considerable amount of time learning the game" before abandoning it. And while you may think that's fine and Reflex isn't for most gamers, it does need to be for some number of gamers that can sustain the title. It's not a coincidence that the last updates to the game coincide with a steep drop in player counts.

Right, this is a well-known issue, and like I said before, there are many things the devs can do (and are planning to do) to shorten the learning process and make the game more accessible. However, there is only so much they can do to help the player learn the game without dumbing down the gameplay itself. It's a difficult situation since the devs either a] keep doing what they and the core playerbase want to do with the game and suffer financially or b] do a complete 180 and say fuck you to their dream project and their core audience just to make the game sustainable.

edit: now that I think about it, I think you're completely wrong about most people not willing to put time into learning a competitive game - just look at Dota or Starcraft, both hugely unintuitive and complex games with big playerbases. There's definitely a huge market for games with high skill ceiling.

17 hours ago, BugsPray said:

Who knows if the reasons I specified are the reasons why there's lackluster player counts. I'd certainly contend that accessibility is a huge issue. What we do know is that if you fully monetize 10% (generous) of the 2000 active players (est. by SteamSpy) at $100 (rough estimate of goods sold in the store * 50% [also generous]) you're looking at funding one decent programmer for 6 months of work. That's clearly not sustainable for getting Reflex where it needs to be to be healthy, and to give the devs a return on their hard work (read: financial stability).

Yes, you are right that accessibility is a huge issue, and your feedback is completely valid - it's something they're working on in the upcoming 1.2 patch. These aren't the only reasons to why the game isn't succeeding though, as there are other issues with HUGE lack of marketing, lack of refinement and polish in existing features and player retention. The problem here is that your original issue with the game and how it snowballs cannot really be fixed without affecting the gameplay negatively: if you don't have the time or the patience or whatever to learn, then the game really isn't for you. There is nothing wrong with that, it's just the way it works.

17 hours ago, BugsPray said:

Like I said, I'm a sample of n=1. I'd wager this isn't the first nor last time you've heard this though. If no one wants this feedback or believes it's valuable then I'm fine uninstalling and you'll never hear from me again. It's not a "I'm going to take my ball and go home" thing. If you're comfortable with the above, then no amount of my feedback is going to change your mind anyway so I just won't belabor the point further and wont expect things to change.

You're definitely not the first one. I think your feedback is valuable as it affirms the fact that there are issues in regards to accessibility!

I hope you'll give the game another go sometime in the future, perhaps with the launch of 1.2 - I've honestly never enjoyed or been this enthusiastic about a game before as much as I have with Reflex, and I think that once you get hooked in and start seeing progression, it's a very satisfying experience.

If you're looking to talk to folks within the community, feel free to join the Discord here: https://discord.gg/uThaFhF

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