I'll kick it off for you. Many of you know I know exactly what you want, but I'm going to say it in a way that Yodmare need to read. If anyone wants to add to the discussion, feel free to do so in a manner that follows mine.
I'm going to say what an existing issue is, why it's an issue, and how it can be addressed based on what the demographic of hardcore card game players needs. I say "Needs" because it's not necessarily what you think you want, but rather what is proven to work and how it aligns with what you "think" you want.
Remember, every player everywhere knows exactly what they want; they may not know what they really need.What is Competitive Play
Competitive Play, by definition, is a game mode that places two or more players against each other in an environment that is designed to be played at the highest level of strategic design and thoughtful play.
Generally speaking (if the creator of the game mode is worth their salt) it is deemed "Competitive" by the community due to the rewards and incentives which they are "Competing" for. This means they are purposefully trying their absolute hardest to do as well as possible and win as much as possible for the sake of obtaining whatever these incentives might be.Does Infinity Wars have Competitive Play
No. There are no clear incentives, rewards, or reasons to place yourself in a situation where you are competing against other players at the highest level of play. Bragging Rights aside, playing Ranked is simply a gentleman's (lol) agreement to hurt each other as hard as possible.
Ranked Play, also by definition, should be the pinnacle of competition that players use other modes to practice in for the ultimate goal of being able to perform at their highest potential to progress up the ladder and gain rewards.What does Competitive Play look like in this industry?Hearthstone
- Seasons. Pre-determined in length. Rewards showcased very early in the season or (mostly) at the start of the season. Players rise the ranks throughout that Month to put themselves in the best possible position of obtaining these rewards.
Psychological Effect: They see what they're fighting for; they know what they're playing for; they have a clear visual goal of what Rank they want to hit; they will work hard to hit that Rank and the community will respond to these efforts creating community content that is engaging to numerous demographics while having the simultaneous effect of showing incentivization for new players to reach that goal of entering that competition.
It has an excellent ripple effect that will drive new players to enter competition, which feeds the pool of players feeding competition, which feeds the veteran players and breeds competition to rise through the ranks, which feeds community created content.
Ironically, one of the absolute best reasons Hearthstone is so widely played is simply due to their UX interfacing. The graphic and sound effects create such intense and natural immersion and is something Blizzard has keyed in on with their new IP's rather well.
I would take a queue from this, as sound design has always been one of IW's weakest points in a genre where you're getting your pixelated ass handed to you by your competition in this regard. If you really plan to re-launch IW, you have to recognize what the industry around you is doing and what you can offer the players that are already accustomed to such excellent immersive design.League of Legends
- One of the top designs, but an incredibly different psychological design from Hearthstone. Where HS is Visceral and Sense-oriented, LoL is the Adrenaline-fueled blood pumper that a card game simply can't reach. (Prove me wrong, I dare you, make Billions.)
Length of seasons are determined by Patch Cycles, and most players will only ever see Skins for their efforts in Ranked Competition. Now, where does League of Legends differ? The top-end play.
In the client players can always spectate Ranked Matches, to simply watch their favorite Champions be played at a level they dream of obtaining. This fuels their passion, this feeds retention, and will create an unending cycle of Champion Monetization.
Players will fight for what most will recognize as "Silver Sluggers."
Get out of Bronze, distinguish yourself from the insignificant plebs that infest this reality needing to be purged from the earth like the scum they ar - *ahem*
sorry, got into character there. Point being, most will only ever play League of Legends competition for the bragging rights, however they ALL know just how high a ladder exists in that game mode. They know how high it goes, and thanks to what Riot created, they have the resources to see first hand what the highest level competition looks like for cash prizes and internet immortality. (Source: Faker/Xpeke/Many others)What can Infinity Wars do to breed True Competition?
Reward feedback loops. What form these come in, ultimately, is up to Yodmare. You will never hold a candle to many of the other games in this genre (including Duelyst, seriously) unless you clearly show that you're dedicated to breeding competitive gameplay that rewards only the best and brightest in your community.
Your gameplay is heralded as one of the greatest designs in the Digital Card Game genre entirely, your UI and Reward Designs continue to cost you players week after week after week and have for a long (long) time.
Players don't know why they're competing, players don't know what to compete for, and the worst scenario is that new players don't even understand what their goal is as a new player.Players don't know why they're competing
- Seriously. This is just something in this industry. Players need a reward to compete for. It's not enough to "Just have fun with the game" but instead they need to visually understand what they're competing for. That doesn't exist in IW.Players don't know what to compete for
- Once they're at a level where they unlock Ranked Play (something that honestly has little psychological significance) they have no idea what in the world they would do it for. They go into the game mode confused and scared. I'm pretty sure it's self explanatory why that's a terrible thing for the retention of your competitive play.Players don't understand what their goal is as a new player
- Why do they want to level up? What do they want to do once they're max level? What motivates them to enter competitive play? What motivates them to improve? What motivates them to win?
These questions are something you should ask yourself when designing systems. Don't leave it open ended. Design starts at the top and works its way down when it comes to competition. You create the ultimate goal, then work your way down to the gate/barrier that allows people to begin working towards that goal.
Create a vision, then run yourself through that vision from the perspective of a player who just wants to kick ass and feel good about it. Right now there is no feeling good about it, there's just senseless gameplay that results in a bunch of questions and intrigue. Once they're at the point of winning there is literally nothing left for them in IW unless they're one of the very few in the industry who just play to have fun and winning is enough of a reward for them. (Seriously, that's such an incredibly small demographic, don't underestimate how few players feel that way)Feedback Loop Outline
In order of necessary progression:
- Realizes they can compete in Ranked Competition
- Is shown what Ranked Competition can offer them in regards to rewards
- Is shown the ladder that they are competing against, to provide them a scope of a daunting epiphany that they have a long and difficult road ahead of them
- Is shown how to begin competing in Ranked Competition and encouraged to prepare themselves (think the concept of being shown the different ranked divisions and where they'll start)
- Is shown a clear visualization of their progression after each match, giving them a no-bullpuffy mental image of what they need to do in order to reach their desired goal
- Is offered community highlights/content showing them what high-end competition offers/looks like in IW
Reaches Max Level, told they can compete.
GET THIS BATTLEFIELD, ALT-ART, AND ENTRY TO A SEASON-END TOURNAMENT BY REACHING X RANK.
Holy puffy this dude is Diamond IV? Goddam he must be good. One day I'll be there.
I gotta play 10 games to be placed in a division? Alright, well.....let's get started I guess. See how I do.
Okay so I'm placed in Bronze III and I need to win 7 more matches (or obtain X amount of Ranked Points) to be promoted to Bronze II. Got it. Better improve my deck to start doing better.
I wonder what I can trade for to improve my deck? Let's take a look at the collection binder to see what kind of packs I can purchase or what cards I should trade for to get where I need to be so I can improve. Maybe I can grab some of the decks shown in this Front-Page Article about Tournament Winning decks to get an idea?You have just successfully created a psychological retention loop through smart use of UX interfacing and tangible responses to actions taken by the user. The less information that is included in the UI throughout this process, the less likely it is that the User understands the goal that you want them to see.
How that ultimately turns out is up to Yodmare, but that's an example. I did not dive into specifics for how it should work for IW because that's not my call nor can I be the driving factor for what the Community (I love you nerds) says they want to see in these designs. They're the ones you should be listening to for that.
I'm only here to give you a vision for how you can translate what they "Want" into what they truly "Need" in the end-game. All that is certain right now is that the end-game is a Sausage Festival where the only goal is to compare the size of their Sausages.
You can flesh this out over time, you can gradually improve what competition in IW looks like, but you need to make these players feel like they are heard. This has been an issue in IW for a long LONG time, and some of these players have been waiting for YEARS.
Let them love IW again.
This is what most players look like once they reach Max Level and don't know what to do:
This is what most veteran players will do with every update you push that has nothing to do with Competitive Play: