As we probably all know, recently Epic have been trying to nerf jail builds. Unfortunately for them, their attempts have backfired, resulting in people being able to jail build in an even more resource efficient way (no traps needed at all!) and damage builds becoming more complicated as players try to navigate additional rules regarding the efficacy of damage traps.
I have held back on commenting on this situation for several weeks, but I felt the need to send a post out now having gathered a few thoughts on the matter. So here goes:
(TLDR: Trying to control jails is the wrong approach; epic should incentivise damage builds and embrace stalling as a legitimate playstyle. Practical suggestions of how to do this are welcomed.)
First, I think that trying to control jail builds is the wrong approach.
I am a parent. It is easy as a parent to get in the trap of trying to control every negative behaviour that your child demonstrates. We create rules, we impose punishments, all to try and stop our children demonstrating those behaviours that we see as undesirable. It works okay when the child is young, but as they get older they simply get better at circumnavigating those rules, finding loopholes, or just doing stuff in secret that you don't know about. The better approach, in my opinion, is to have open lines of communication with your children, and focus on the behaviours that you want to see by incentivising and rewarding them, rather than punishing the negative behaviours.
I think the same principle applies in evolving games like Save the World. The devs had a vision for the game. They adapted and updated that vision over the years. Their vision was, amongst other things, for a grindy game, that takes a crazy amount of hours to 'complete'. Over the years, the player base developed loopholes to get around those game mechanics, like duping, and jailing and so on; allowing them to get to a high level the game with fewer resources and less time needed.
Epic have responded to this by doubling down on the control factor, adding rules to make the game more difficult to cheese. We saw this first with the 'smashers aren't affected by floor launchers' change. And now with the latest 'crowd control traps stop working after 5 triggers' change. Actually, I think this approach is a little infantilising. It also raises a wider question for these kinds of games about how devs interact and engage with their players – do they force the game down the route the devs want, or expand and alter the game to embrace what the players want?
In this instance, we have a situation where the rules have had little effect. The devs wanted to stop jail builds so there could be more damage builds. However, what has actually happened is that the player base have found more loopholes to work around the changes, and still we see just as many jail builds as before.
Point 1: I think Epic should focus on incentivising damage builds, rather than endlessly trying to control jail builds. They need to make it better and easier and more interesting for players to do damage builds, so that players choose to damage build more frequently.
Here are some quick and easy ways that they could do that, and some less quick and less easy ways too: (I would also welcome commenter input on this)
- Buff farming again – the recent changes were a definite improvement, but I still find myself regularly short of things like efficient and oxi.
- Tier 5 expeditions to help with resource gathering.
- Easier to obtain weapon and trap superchargers.
- Some kind of resource reimbursement for failed (or even passed) missions.
- Being able to build over all terrain, making block-offs easier and builds more effective.
- Clear and permanent info about whether the spawns will shift or not, and the element in missions – it should be available under mission info for all missions, rather than just popping up for a second after the first person reaches the objective.
- More fixed spawns – when spawns shift that means a tonne more resources needed.
- Perhaps providing info about the waves so we can build accordingly. E.g. I would build very differently for a smasher wave than I would a propane wave.
- Increase the rewards where damage builds are used – so if you use a jail build you only get a fraction of the rewards. (They could introduce some form of counter that tracks the number of husks killed during the objective defence itself in order to obtain that information.)
- Most importantly – some form of training and education for the player base to teach them about trapping. E.g. a trapping lessons mode, or requirement that you solo your SSDs or something like that. We shouldn't have to find out this stuff from YouTube.
- Also: revert the recent CC changes, as they make damage builds harder and more complicated, an extra rule to factor in when building.
Point 2: Secondly, they should accept at this point that stalling is a legitimate playstyle. I am not talking about jailing only – that's just a form of stalling. When I am doing a damage build, and the husks are going to approach the objective from multiple sides, I often like to stall one side, and damage the other. It makes things more interesting, it means I'm using different traps on different sides, etc. In my opinion, the game is supposed to encourage creative building, and we should be able to do that using multiple different strategies, of which stalling is one.
There are various ways that they could discourage jailing more effectively whilst still encourage stalling (e.g. simply have husks despawn after a certain amount of time, and ramp up the difficulty of each wave using smashers, etc.).
Anyway, those are my two cents, thank you for reading this far! I will tag Magyst and pray to the gods of RNG that the devs listen 🙂
Commenters, any other suggestions?