Feedback Points: Scavengers Technical Playtest

16 July 2020

Hello Explorers!

From all of us here at Midwinter, we want to thank everyone in our community for participating in our June Technical Playtest and making it a success.

We received a lot of great feedback, ranging from recent updates you loved to the features you found frustrating; from nuisance bugs to tales of survival against vicious bears. All of your notes, thoughts, questions and complaints are invaluable as we continue to shape and evolve Scavengers through our Alpha development. We look forward to receiving more of your feedback throughout all of our upcoming playtests!

Below are the top feedback points we received during the course of the last Technical Playtest in June, and our current plans to address them. We will then start to make changes and roll them out to players in upcoming playtests, analysing further feedback and data to determine whether we need to take any further steps.

Goals and objective clarity

While we observed some improvement over the last Technical Playtest back in March, some players continue to report issues with comprehension and clarity around some gameplay systems, as well as in-game objectives. What is clear from player data is that enjoyment of Scavengers improves as players become more familiar with our game systems. Therefore, we will be putting more focus on onboarding and tutorials ahead of our next Technical Playtest.

Technical issues

Performance also plays a big role in how our players enjoy and interact within the world of Scavengers With regard to client performance, we still have much work to do to optimize this and ensure a smooth and consistent framerate. This is a continual area of focus for our team.

During our last playtest, we had some bugs with the video settings not being saved after changes were made. This led to some players playing at a higher resolution and level of detail than intended (with corresponding performance issues). In addition, we speculate that high ping times may have contributed to the perception of poor performance amongst those players farthest from available data centers.

For future playtests, we need to improve client performance, fix the settings bug and expand datacenter coverage to reduce ping times.

Matchmaking

This latest technical playtest was the first one to feature full 60-player matches. This change, along with a larger playtest window (24 hours), led to lengthy matchmaking times (with an average time to match of 4minutes, 45seconds).

There was no indication in the Scavengers lobby of the current estimated time to match. In addition, the number of “Explorers Online” (representing the number of players currently in that region’s lobby) was misinterpreted by many as the total number of players in the game (lobby + active sessions).). As a result, some players chose to abandon the queue and leave the game client without ever getting into a match.

For upcoming playtests we need to focus on bringing matchmaking times down and providing players a better sense of how long they should expect to wait to get into a match.

Communications

Inactive teammates create a negative experience for players, particularly given the importance of teamwork in Scavengers. We need to investigate solutions, which begin with detection of inactive behavior and may require some combination of backfill matchmaking (allow players to join a session in progress) and enforcement (bans for repeated inactive behavior).

HUD and UX

Some players found the HUD and UI difficult to understand, particularly as it related to mechanics like stamina and cold, and comprehension of rules related to crafting. We have a large number of UX improvements planned for this playtest that didn’t quite make it in.

An overhaul of the HUD and UI elements related to match presentation is on our roadmap, and we expect to see a substantial improvement to the game experience and user comprehension as a result of these changes.

Extraction phase

The end game experience in previous playtests had a number of issues that you told us impacted your enjoyment of the game. The role of the dropship was unclear to some players, and there were a number of bugs that prevented reliable display of the landing zones on the map.

Furthermore, the distance to the dropships was highly variable due to players being spread out across the map. For our next playtest there will be a number of changes to refine the end game experience, and make the race to extract via dropship clearer and less frustrating, but also that much more exciting.

The main addition you’ll see is collapsing storms. No, Scavengers isn’t turning into a Battle Royale – you won’t find the storm shrinking to the size of a postage stamp (at its smallest point, the contained space is roughly 1km2). Instead, at the midway point of the mission, the weather on the surface becomes unstable, forcing teams inward to ensure closer proximity to the dropships as they land.In addition to this you’ll also see our scoring system has been simplified so that only players who make it aboard will earn a shot at victory.

Tuning

Tuning and balance for resources, weapons, combat and AI difficulty all require continued focus and refinement. We continue to iterate on these elements of the game almost daily, and validate through internal company playtests. We will continue to strive for constant improvement with each external playtest and this will remain a focus for live updates even once we reach continuous availability.

What's next?

In short, at this stage of development our team’s focus is shifting from pure feature development to place more emphasis on bug fixing, optimization and polish.

Once again, we want to say thank you to everyone who participated in June’s Technical Playtest. We still have a long way to go, but with your help and continued support we’re closer than ever to bringing Scavengers to launch.

Keep an eye on our Discord and Twitter channels, where we will be providing more updates and information on when you can next play Scavengers.

Keep Warm,

Midwinter

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