Keeping players online long enough to find a match...

One of the major issues that Wands will continue to face is the difficulty in finding a match. I'd say this is the highest priority problem to tackle after fixing the judder, spit misfire and other spell casting bugs.

The amount of time players spend waiting for someone else to show up is simply too short. Not only are players missing other random people looking for games (by mere minutes sometimes), but they aren't staying on long enough for even players watching the Spectator to get into their game fast enough.

Finding a way to increase the wait time from 1 or 2 minutes to 5 or 10 or even 15 would (I believe) significantly improve the likelihood of finding a match. Players that successfully find matches will stay online playing them, thereby increasing the chances of finding a new opponent after they finish a series...and so on and so on. The key is getting players to wait longer.

How?
Polish up the AI opponent and bring him online.

How would this work?
If you launch a competitive game and there is no one to play, a match is launched against the AI opponent instead. It should be clear that this match will be interrupted as soon as a human player shows up.

Beating the AI should grant some small amount of Relic Dust (20?) so players can feel like they are making progress towards something. Bot matches continue until another player shows up.

When another player logs on, the bot immediately "retreats" and the new player joins the game seamlessly, starting the pre-game countdown as usual.

This is probably a fair bit of work (certainly more than is immediately apparent), but does at least build on preexisting features. The payoff would be worth the effort, imo: particularly because having a robust AI is going to open up new possibilities and continue to pay off in multiple ways down the road.

Comments

  • edited October 2016
    I know the devs are swamped with work right now, so I've been keeping a lot of ideas to myself. But having something engaging for waiting players to do is definitely #1 on my wishlist because I think it would greatly increase the odds of finding an opponent. But it's critical that the AI (or whatever else is used to keep the waiting player busy) scales in difficulty and has variety in order to remain engaging again and again. Easier said than done, I know.
  • This is something we really want to do as well. We're not happy at all with the current state of "single player" and we do see the problem spending too much time by yourself waiting for an opponent. Thanks for your input.
  • Even just being able to remove the headset while still searching for a game would be nice. Maybe accompanied with a loud beep when the match is made.
  • edited October 2016
    @Venthread My hack for that is to fold the top headstrap over the sensor when I set the headset down so it thinks my noggin is still in there. ;)
  • @CharmedImSure I think I'm better at waiting than I am at Wands. I used to do that but noticed the phone gets hot faster since heat is trapped underneath it, so I only do that when I have something like a cooling rack to set the phone on. When I'm too lazy to do that, I just flip the gear around like a backwards baseball cap.
  • Now I'm picturing you forgetting it's up there and going to the grocery store with it still on backwards. ;)

    Back in the late 90s there was a VR headset that projected the screen onto a set of clear lenses. You could hit a button to hide the display and see through them like regular glasses. What a giant step backwards we've taken!

  • edited October 2016
    Dragon Front has an "Estimated Wait" counter that shows how long it will likely take to find a match (usually between 30-60 seconds). Not sure how they calculate the wait, but this is really effective at getting players to stay in the queue at least that long (and then try again if they don't find a game, since people naturally want to see if the number changes.)

    I'm not sure that this would really help Wands, since the wait can fluctuate between 2 minutes and 2 hours pretty randomly....but it did get me thinking about the complete lack of activity information in-game. If you start a game and no one joins, the game seems dead. Do this a few times and it becomes pretty convincing that no one else is playing (even if it's not true).

    If the in-game launcher said something along the lines of "n active players today" and/or "x matches played today" or even "Last activity y minutes ago" it would let people know that there are other people playing and might encourage them to wait longer or try more often.

    Anecdotally, I tried to find a MP game of Ascension (a game I'm not particularly invested in) after downloading it last night and wasn't able to find one. Despite knowing better, I still got a strong vibe that no one is playing it anymore and didn't feel like trying again very often. However, I noticed a message on the main menu that stated that the devs play every Tuesday at 8pm...which gives me some hope.

    Dragon Front also has a ton of devs (I suspect it's mostly QA staff) that play constantly and chat up the Discord channel, which I'm sure has a big impact on getting players matched up quickly.

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