We thought it was time for us to give you a deeper understanding about the status of Dreadnought. Below, you will find a lot of information about our progress as well as our plans. The goal is to increase our level of transparency with our community. Hopefully, this letter along with our New Dev Roadmap will achieve it. Please, read away!
Following the introduction of Battle Bonus on PC a few weeks ago and some recent tweaks to the system in the 1.8.1 patch, we wanted to share with you what we will be focusing on for the next several months. We hope that this view of the future excites you as much as it does us.
Bear in mind, player feedback on existing systems or critical issues may change the priorities or direction or timings of any of these at the moment. Additional caveats: This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything that’s happening with the game. We are sharing these details in no particular order and they will roll out in a manner and on a schedule that logically fits with the development flow of the game and the team. What’s captured here is many months of future work, taking us well into 2018, so please do not expect to see all of this stuff in the next few updates.
PS4 and PC Distinctions
For PS4, migrating new onboarding and Battle Bonus systems from the PC are among the highest priorities for us to improve our player happiness and engagement. We’re also looking at some improvements to the UI and store experiences there as very important to the PS4 experience. In addition, there will be a lot of “behind the scenes” work to merge builds and development process so that we can move new features and enhancements between PC and PS4 much more quickly and seamlessly than we have to this point. Please be aware this process will take several months to complete and work into our development flow. So PS4 users should assume that eventually, all features and content will move to their version of Dreadnought as well. However, there may be elements that show up first on PS4 and then move to PC.
In the PC 1.9 update (coming in late September if things go according to plan), one of the major changes you will see has to do with matchmaking. We understand the frustration some folks have when they queue for a recruit fleet game and get pulled into a veteran match. At the same time, legendary squads getting pulled into vet matches or not being able to get matches with a tier five ship in your fleet because there aren’t enough players at that level of the game yet.
The fixes to address these issues are as follows:
We will have hard divisions between the fleet queues. That means, even if you have all decked out T2s in your recruit fleet and a high MMR and you queue for recruit, you will 100% of the time get only get a recruit match. That said, we do not want to dissuade people from having T2s in their veteran fleet if they feel that they need that ship to fill a role. So in short, the only time you’ll see a T2 in a vet match is when a player has deliberately placed it in their vet fleet and queued for a veteran match. That same player may well have full T4s in every other slot, but he’s choosing to play the T2 either for progression, xp conversion or just team comp needs.
We do still want to have a “safe” matchmaking pool for solo-queuing newer players, so they aren’t immediately fed to more experienced sharks who happen to also be playing their recruit fleet. There will eventually be a matchmaking pool specifically for those players. Once they reach a certain fleet rating or MMR rating from skillful play, they will graduate to the “general” recruit fleet pool.
At the higher end of the spectrum, similarly, if you queue for a legendary match, you will only get a legendary match (not a vet level match that includes T2 and T3 with legendary battle bonus rewards). This should help players who have T5s currently going unused and who are unable to make progress in kitting out those ships with amazing new modules. Hopefully this approach will also create a draw for those players with T4 ships to step up to tier 5 and those real legendary battles, where the greatest challenges and rewards lie.
These changes will have impact upon matchmaking logic and thus queue times. Our game is reaching an audience size where we feel comfortable making some of these changes but one of the things we’ve learned is that folks leave and quit the game when the queue times get too long. So we need to manage that issue carefully. Also, it’s not as fun sitting in a queue as it is battling. We want the Dreadnought experience to be about play, not about waiting.
We have two features coming in the future to address these issues:
AI “slot” filling - There’s two elements here. First, we will be tweaking the AI to have greater skill granularity between the easy onboarding/early proving ground matches and the brutal teamwork and skill shown in the Havoc mode AI. Second, we will then set a “hard time limit” for queues where we will make the best possible matches with folks in the queue at that moment given the parameters above. We will then supplement any open team positions, taking care to balance the teams, with an appropriately skilled/talented AI player. In most games, we expect there to be no AI players, but at certain times of day and certain matchups (particularly T5 legendary matchups for now) it’s likely to be unavoidable. This situation will evolve over time.
This next bit is further out on the time horizon, but re-queuing from end-of-match screen directly will be possible. The objective here is to have players who played well together, continue to play and socialize together. This will take the form of being able to requeue directly from the end-of-match screen and then being able to chat or squad up with folks from the prior game who have also just requeued. The goal is have folks spend more time battling, making friends and less time queuing.
Shortly after 1.9, we will expand the PC squad size from three to four. For PS4, for the time being, it will likely stay at three since there are five man teams and four people would allow for organized sharks to more easily trounce pick up groups. We’re still exploring options for PS4 match player increases but those changes are heavily performance bound so we can’t make any commitments at this time.
We know people want to arrange full teams on both platforms and initially that function will come via our Custom Games feature, which is still a good ways out there in the roadmap.
You’ll eventually be able to pick a map, pick a mode and populate the game to play with your friends. We will iterate on this feature to add more options over time but we’re working to get a first implementation with basic functionality so folks can coordinate tournaments on their own and we can support some of our organized play efforts. We will share more on these initiatives before the end of the year.
This is a big one but the chat and social systems will be overhauled. One of the first major changes is that chat will be available in some form or another everywhere in the game: in the hangar, while battling, post-game, while queuing, etc. Depending upon where you are (hangar, in-game, etc.) there will be different tabs for the chat window that allow players to filter through global, regional (typically language specific), team, squad, whispers/tells and game event messages.
We will have shortcuts to speak to a specific channel as well as the ability to have a specific channel active by default. For example, “/s gg” or “/p gg” would send “gg” to the squad / party channel. The tab key will rotate you through your available channels as desired.
You will be able to whisper, mute, unmute, report, friend or invite a player to the squad from within the chat interface.
Eventually chat (and other features like statistics/rankings) will also have to accommodate support for a clan system. Suffice to say there will eventually be a clan system but for the moment we’re going to be mum on that as all of these other elements have to be in place first.
Data Presentation and Visibility Changes
While there is already a statistics system in the game within your dashboard, we’d like to improve how we display that information. Eventually, the dashboard menu will be removed from the hangar and statistics will be directly accessible there in its place.
The current stats let you see how you’re doing in various criteria against your friends but we intend to introduce global leaderboards so that you can see where you fit across the entire playerbase. Hopefully this feature will provide incentive for players to improve their rankings in various categories.
Finally, on a more “match-to-match” basis, we want to change how the end-of-match stats are presented to you and your teammates. We want to focus on what each of you has done well and compare it to your individual past performances. It should be a more celebratory experience regardless of win or loss and allow for personal improvement measurement game-to-game.
In-battle, we will also start to expose the damage or healing (or possibly tanking) you are doing (receiving) with “combat text”. This will allow you to first hand see the numerical impact of your actions based upon range, your target (or in the case of tanking, your assailant). For those of you who don’t want this to break your immersion in the world, it will be an option you can turn on or off as you see fit.
Progression and Scoring Tweaks
We will be removing research of “the next ship” in the tech tree as a requirement for having a “fully researched ship” for purposes of generating convertible XP and receiving XP and credit gain bonuses.
We want scoring to still be the primary driver of XP and credit gain, however we are exploring designs that would reward players with some minimum amount of XP by some factor of match length, so that folks who are just learning the ropes or are new to a vet or legendary fleet can continue to progress. Performance would still trump participation and we would take steps to avoid exploitation, but as the game exists currently, people are hitting progression walls where they just can’t build ships appropriately to become competitive in a reasonable timeframe. Some minimum amount of progression for “time spent” we believe would help that situation.
We want scoring events that happen in-game to be presented more clearly. It’s often not obvious what you did to receive a scoring event/ribbon and to allow for different kinds of play. For example, tanking right now doesn’t have a scoring event associated with what is a very important role.
There are certain points in the ship progression curve that we are seeking to flatten a bit so that there are fewer hard “walls.” The intent here is to make these points feel less like a grind.
In the longer term, while we soften the ship progression areas, we will eventually replace officer briefings with a crew. These crew members will have their own progression to allow for additional rewards on a more consistent cadence (rather than just module or ship upgrades alone). We also feel these systems will create greater variation and customization of ships for a given play style even within the same class or tier.
Lastly, we want to implement a reward system for daily play. We’re still discussing exactly what form that will take, but we want to reward our players who log in and play multiple days a week (and entice others to do so as well).
Class/Ship Balance and Unlocks
There are calls from some players for nerfing or buffing specific ships or classes overall. We are going to share with you the data upon which we base our decisions for these areas. There will be a few changes over the coming months, but they will be slight tweaks, not radical changes.
While skilled players can certainly buck the trends (which should be expected), based upon the K/D ratios, win-loss ratios, Credits and XP earnings that we have seen by class and even by tier, we do not feel that major changes are warranted. We will share that data with you over the coming weeks with commentary from the folks most directly responsible for balance. We understand that you may disagree, but once you see the data, we can discuss these issues on a more even footing.
We are looking specifically at tier-1 module choices so that there are some “cooler” options available earlier and perhaps to be used as early game balance tweaks as needed between classes.
The concept of your “flagship” will be removed and when entering orbit, you will select the ship you want to play at that moment. We are also eventually going to enable additional “load out” options for your fleet to give players more pre-match and mid-match configuration choices for the ships in their fleet.
And finally, we will be adjusting the way we unlock ships in the progression tree to incentivise players to unlock and try all manner of modules. It’s been a hot button issue with the community and we’ll be doing a deeper dive into the particulars shortly.
And everything else...
On top of all of these are a slew of “quality of life” improvements, continued refinement of existing systems, UI improvements, bug fixing and polish of everything that’s already there and content. New maps, ships, abilities, modules, events, etc. are all also “givens”.
Again, I just want to thank everyone for helping us make Dreadnought what it is today. Your feedback has had tremendous impact on the direction of the game and we are determined to honor our commitment to you, our players.