Jump to content
TylerTT

Customer Angst in the era of object impermanence.

Recommended Posts

Object permanence is how we know things still exist even if they fall out of view. Babies don’t have this and that’s why peak-a-boo works. In today’s world the consumer may as well have no object permanence.

Timing communication is difficult. Speak too soon and hype dies before it can hit shelves and distracts from what you currently have on offer. Speak too late and no one knows it’s coming.

Games Workshop has been absolutely fantastic at managing this balance. Products for established lines are teased about a month or two away, new games are teased about three or four months away as these are more complex messages to send consumers.

FFG is still struggling but making improvements in this area. They are running messaging closer to release (unless delayed). They are letting devs talk more to folks and the live streams are all huge improvements. Great strides.

Imperial assault is not dead. It’s huge already and big trees grow slowly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, TylerTT said:

Imperial assault is not dead. It’s huge already and big trees grow slowly. 

I can't agree more. Actually I believe that all these attempts of having a community-driven skirmish will destroy official support to the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Trevize84 said:

I can't agree more. Actually I believe that all these attempts of having a community-driven skirmish will destroy official support to the game.

This is what I was wondering. Like it seems premature. However, do these people know something we don't? I have an honest question...

What is the consequence of violating a play tester non-disclosure agreement?

Like can't play testers (you know who you are) tell us it's dead? Wouldn't they know if something was in the pipe? And what does telling us do? Would they get sued for millions? Get cut out of future IA play testing? 

 

edited- found this on BGG specific to FFG

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/301943/non-disclosure-agreements-playtesters

Edited by NeverBetTheFett

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, TylerTT said:

Games Workshop has been absolutely fantastic at managing this balance. Products for established lines are teased about a month or two away, new games are teased about three or four months away as these are more complex messages to send consumers.

 

I'm not sure I'd say GW is far and away better than FFG at teasing and announcing products if you look at things company wide. FFG does one to two articles about their upcoming or existing products every week day. FFG just has way more game lines. I think it's fairer to look at individual factions in, say, 40K compared to FFG's Star Wars games. Sure the Space Marines may get new stuff and announcements frequently but then so do X-Wing and Legion.  Then ask players of, say, the Adepta Soritas how much attention and care they think GW gives them.

With all that said, I'm far less bothered by IA getting reduced or even no more product releases than, say, Armada thanks to the Campaign and app.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, NeverBetTheFett said:

This is what I was wondering. Like it seems premature. However, do these people know something we don't? I have an honest question...

What is the consequence of violating a play tester non-disclosure agreement?

Like can't play testers (you know who you are) tell us it's dead? Wouldn't they know if something was in the pipe? And what does telling us do? Would they get sued for millions? Get cut out of future IA play testing? 

The drive for the community project really only stems from three pieces of information:

1) The meta is not in a good spot with SC

2) FFG hasn't announced anything new in a year, nor have they given any indication that they plan on announcing something new despite all the feedback people have sent the developers

3) Skirmish players who have been playtesters for the previous expansions have not been contacted about playtesting anything new

So beyond point #3, depending on how you want to classify that, there's not really any sort of insider information at play.  Nobody has any word from on high that the game is dead or anything like that.  And hey, it's theoretically possible that they just have other people doing the playtesting (although playtesting without the world's top players would probably not be a great plan, either).  Not to mention that none of that stops something getting released eventually, it just means that it's unlikely that an announcement is right around the corner.

 

I think the bigger issue is that the apparent lack of interest from FFG has put the (skirmish) game in a really tough spot.  It's already been bleeding players - even former hotbeds are seeing their numbers decrease dramatically.  A competitive game doesn't survive on a "one-update-every-few-years-....maybe" sort of schedule.  Every month these folks spend waiting for an official "dead" announcement (which may or may not ever come) is another bunch of players that will give up caring and move on to something new.  I'm not involved, but I doubt that the timing of announcing things right after worlds, while there's still buzz and excitement about the game, was an accident.  Their goal is to get as many people as possible on board before the game is dead and its player base completely gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Trevize84 said:

I can't agree more. Actually I believe that all these attempts of having a community-driven skirmish will destroy official support to the game.

As for that, I think we'd be giving FFG too much credit (or I suppose not enough credit, depending on how you look at things :P).  If FFG are interested enough to let this have an effect on their development cycle, one would think that they would have also been paying enough attention to address the elephant in the room long before now.  They've had a bajillion opportunities in interviews/con panels/articles/etc. to come out and say "I can't tell you any details or timelines, but know that we do in fact plan on producing more physical content for IA".  They just did exactly that for Armada at Adepticon.  

I doubt that seeing people try to keep things going on their own is going to have any effect on whether or not they continue to release content.  And to be honest, if there's any effect at all I would almost lean the other way - if this gets big enough, the fact that so many people are willing to play even without their help should give them an indication of just how many people are invested in their game.  Do you think for a second that, if they released a new box, that every single one of the people involved in the community project wouldn't go straight out to buy it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, NeverBetTheFett said:

What is the consequence of violating a play tester non-disclosure agreement?

Like can't play testers (you know who you are) tell us it's dead? Wouldn't they know if something was in the pipe? And what does telling us do? Would they get sued for millions? Get cut out of future IA play testing? 

So bear in mind that I conducted playtesting research for the video game industry not tabletop but as I assume the standards of NDAs are consistent across industries...the consequences can be severe. Being caught breaking an NDA will almost certainly get you blacklisted from future play tests and fired if you're actually employed as a playtester.  Additionally, most NDAs are legal contracts so further civil lawsuits are certainly possible. Companies want to control the narrative around their products as much as possible and view any kind of leak as potentially costly down the line. Plus, you know, also kind of an a-hole move to leak something you were asked not to just to make yourself look knowledgeable, especially since testing is no guarantee something will be released and any given tester not being asked to test is no guarantee somebody else isn't testing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, TylerTT said:

Timing communication is difficult. Speak too soon and hype dies before it can hit shelves and distracts from what you currently have on offer. Speak too late and no one knows it’s coming.

Pop Psychology metaphors aside, I think the pattern for all of these competitive games has been to have something in the pipe by way of an announcement while the newest release is about to come to us.

This is how you basically communicate to your OP players that their competitive game isn't dead yet, and thus you maintain that base level of interest in people that drives the community along its road.

Personally, I prefer if they spoiled less, because with the amount of time generally from announcement, preview articles and then the inevitable release, the die hard among us have already proxied and tested everything to death, so they're left wanting more on Day 1 of the new product.  Keep some mystery in the relationship.

In any case, X-Wing always lets you know what's next.  Legion has a cascading amount of stuff in the pipeline in terms of previews, at all times.  Armada went quit for awhile but now they have the SSD coming soonish, as well as a campaign box to look forward to.  Their players that want to keep playing have verifiable proof that their game hasn't been mothballed...yet.

For us, it's been too quiet for too long, and the subtle clues like the lack of card design as a Worlds prize seems to speak volumes.  We have another OP card pack announced, but the subtle focus on "campaign" play as a qualifier tells me that we're moving towards that final box.

People just want to know, at the end of the day, if their competitive game is still worth investing in, or if they should dump it all if they're not going to get much use out of it posthumously, but while they could still get some cash for it.

Of course if you play campaign games at all, which is even easier with the app, there's no reason to write the game off, and it will always have a permanent place on my shelf for that reason.

But really, the PR that needs to be managed is probably more to do with stockists than players.  If FFG said right now that there's one more box coming (which we inferred from the Ewok on the skirmish mat), and then it's digital only app updates from now on, as a game store, other than doing orders for specific players, why would you want to stock Imperial Assault's entire 40+ SKU product line if most of those SKU's are for a skirmish game that nobody is going to be getting into to play?

Especially after retailers got burnt on Runewars, which never really took off broadly, but for some dedicated fans here and there, I think if you have limited shelf space, you're going to stock X-Wing for sure, probably Legion, then call it a day on Star Wars games from FFG while you put another company's offerings in the next space, and so on.

We can talk about campaign being alive for as long as we care, but I think when we say the game is dead, we're speaking a common language that we really mean the Skirmish component is dead, in that it's busted elements will remain so because no new product is coming to balance it, nor will we likely see a final errata FAQ to rebalance the entire game, knowing it's the end, which would actually be a cool parting gift.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I play primarily campaign, it still flabbergasts me that FFG did not (1) make Legion figure scale more comparable to IA and (2) include IA Deployment cards in Legion figure packs.  This would’ve been an easy way to keep more content coming out for IA, including Skirmish players, and to boost sales for both products.  I’d venture there are plenty of Skirmish players who lack time, budget or other inclination to model terrain needed for Legion.

And it’s not too late.  Since Bespin, maybe Hoth, there’s been figure scale creep in IA, meaning the scale is not as far apart for the later figures.  What about introducing a 2nd edition of IA core and earlier expansions with figures scaled to (or borrowed from) Legion and with the early deployment cards that everyone kvetches about updated to fix the meta?  Deployment costs on those cards could be optimized for Campaign purposes, with Skirmish costs embedded in a list-builder app, so that the meta can be fine-tuned frequently, much as was done for X Wing 2.0.

Now, that doesn’t entirely neglect those of us who prefer Campaign, either.  But perhaps a Mission and Campaign creator app could help there, especially if it includes algorithms to evaluate balance.  Yes, there’s a lot of fan-made Campaign content, but - and as a past IA play tester, I can attest to this - it does not receive nearly the amount of play testing FFG puts into their product.  Encapsulating the rules of thumb FFG has discovered in developing Campaign content over the past half dozen or so years into an evaluation algorithm included in such an app could only benefit fan-made content.

I’m inclined to agree with those who’ve posted pointing out what a big company FFG is and with an enormous and varied product line as the reason behind the perceived “neglect”.  I doubt it’s neglect.  The reality of the industry is that producing these games is a labor of love and while the people doing it are making a living at it, they aren’t getting rich.  Margins are razor thin and there’s only so much staff you can afford to employ before those margins vanish.  I don’t think IA is dead, but that it has slowed down in favor of other products or product lines is irrefutable.

That said, FFG should consider outreach to and embracing well-organized fan communities.  Such communities have “kept alive” out-of-print games or even contributed to their being republished.  Magic Realm, Talisman and Cosmic Encouter are a few which come readily to mind.  The former - lamentably - has yet to be republished, due partially to it being in IP limbo.  But FFG themselves republished the latter two.  Much of the success in doing so because of collaboration with a well-organized fan community.  Lessons learned there should be applied to IA.

I swore I’d never spend any money on a miniatures game that you have to keep sinking money into (Warhammer being a prime example).  But when FFG asked me to play test IA back in the day, as a big fan of both their games and the IP, I bit.  I’ve bought everything that’s come out, include multiples of the dice and some figure packs and that’s as a Campaign player.  Why?  Because they’ve produced an amazing game that really gives the feel of playing in an episode of Star Wars.  It’s fun, engaging and has interesting mechanics and irresistible theme and it’s very well produced (like so many of their games).  With the Mouse milking Star Wars from now till Doomsday, I can’t see how interest in the IP will ever wane.  And that means interest in IA should remain high, as well.

So, fear not, fellow Imperial Assaulters, I believe our beloved game is NOT dead.  Experiencing the dormancy we older fans of the IP did between ‘83 and ‘99, maybe, but not dead.  Have patience and see what happens.  There’s plenty of IP - R1, Solo, The Mandalorian, Endor, etc. - they can draw on for content.  They just need to devote the time and the resources.  It will happen some day.  And when it does, our wait will be rewarded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, ManateeX said:

Skirmish players who have been playtesters for the previous expansions have not been contacted about playtesting anything new

Sorry for being harsh here... I hope they won't be contacted in case of new content. Cards like Lie in Ambush and Heavy Fire were out of the meta even before release. Spectre Cell was totally OP and it got to the printer. There's a big responsibility here from designers, because after so many expansions they should have enough experience to avoid such cases. But there's a responsibility also from playtesters. I'm wondering what they tested! If they're planning anything new I hope they won't use same testers. Although I believe only campaign content undergo a proper testing phase, skirmish is marginal.

Edited by Trevize84

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, ManateeX said:

As for that, I think we'd be giving FFG too much credit (or I suppose not enough credit, depending on how you look at things :P).  If FFG are interested enough to let this have an effect on their development cycle, one would think that they would have also been paying enough attention to address the elephant in the room long before now.  They've had a bajillion opportunities in interviews/con panels/articles/etc. to come out and say "I can't tell you any details or timelines, but know that we do in fact plan on producing more physical content for IA".  They just did exactly that for Armada at Adepticon.  

I doubt that seeing people try to keep things going on their own is going to have any effect on whether or not they continue to release content.  And to be honest, if there's any effect at all I would almost lean the other way - if this gets big enough, the fact that so many people are willing to play even without their help should give them an indication of just how many people are invested in their game.  Do you think for a second that, if they released a new box, that every single one of the people involved in the community project wouldn't go straight out to buy it?

I'm the first one among those people who will play the community-driven OP and will then buy new content.

My point is that skirmish is a side effect in this product. It's a way to play the game in 2 people. The game itself is campaign. If community-driven skirmish will succeed, FFG might just focus on the campaign and drop the skirmish.

I personally think the best for skirmish would be for FFG to split campaign and skirmish. This way we can have our season packs every 6 months without having to deal with all the trade-offs of campaign and its production process.

Edited by Trevize84

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Trevize84 said:

Sorry for being harsh here... I hope they won't be contacted in case of new content. Cards like Lie in Ambush and Heavy Fire were out of the meta even before release. Spectre Cell was totally OP and it got to the printer. There's a big responsibility here from designers, because after so many expansions they should have enough experience to avoid such cases. But there's a responsibility also from playtesters. I'm wondering what they tested! If they're planning anything new I hope they won't use same testers. Although I believe only campaign content undergo a proper testing phase, skirmish is marginal.

My understanding from what I heard at Worlds was that Spectre's Cell's current iteration was changed at the last minute by the devs and then sent to the printer without any playtesting.

Whether that's true or not, the point is that the playtesters don't get any say in what FFG decides to print in the final product, they are only able to provide feedback and the devs have the final say and the final responsibility about what they choose to print and whether they choose to print something without testing it.

You don't get to blame the playtesters for the current state of the game. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Tvboy said:

My understanding from what I heard at Worlds was that Spectre's Cell's current iteration was changed at the last minute by the devs and then sent to the printer without any playtesting.

Whether that's true or not, the point is that the playtesters don't get any say in what FFG decides to print in the final product, they are only able to provide feedback and the devs have the final say and the final responsibility about what they choose to print and whether they choose to print something without testing it.

You don't get to blame the playtesters for the current state of the game. 

I blamed devs first and said they have the biggest responsibility. Because testers participated into the product they win or fail like everyone else. That may be sad or unfair but it is what it is. It's even sadder and more unfair that we paid to get this sort of garbage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, Trevize84 said:

Sorry for being harsh here... I hope they won't be contacted in case of new content. Cards like Lie in Ambush and Heavy Fire were out of the meta even before release. Spectre Cell was totally OP and it got to the printer. There's a big responsibility here from designers, because after so many expansions they should have enough experience to avoid such cases. But there's a responsibility also from playtesters. I'm wondering what they tested! If they're planning anything new I hope they won't use same testers. Although I believe only campaign content undergo a proper testing phase, skirmish is marginal.

The version of sc that made it to print was never shown to testers from what i've heard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Weatherwax2099 said:

So bear in mind that I conducted playtesting research for the video game industry not tabletop but as I assume the standards of NDAs are consistent across industries...the consequences can be severe. Being caught breaking an NDA will almost certainly get you blacklisted from future play tests and fired if you're actually employed as a playtester.  Additionally, most NDAs are legal contracts so further civil lawsuits are certainly possible. Companies want to control the narrative around their products as much as possible and view any kind of leak as potentially costly down the line. Plus, you know, also kind of an a-hole move to leak something you were asked not to just to make yourself look knowledgeable, especially since testing is no guarantee something will be released and any given tester not being asked to test is no guarantee somebody else isn't testing it.

Definitely. I'm a design researcher at a major software company and most of the time we won't talk with customers unless there's an NDA in place. There have been a couple of times when individuals violated the NDA and the legal and professional consequences to them were severe. 

I'd also point out that the BGG post is from over 10 years ago, and FFG was in a different place in the market then. Plus, you'd have to consider Asmodee's response, which I would expect to be more...consequential...than the response on the BGG post.

Edited by rbaker1978
Thought it was OPs BGG post. It wasn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Breaking explicit points of the NDA and also causing an incomplete picture getting propagated doesn't help anyone.

I can't comment on how FFG does things. I have tested for three companies and the NDA's say what you can and cannot say and when. Also, you can be under NDA without a current testing project, or a single NDA while testing several games.

 

Edited by a1bert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, brettpkelly said:

The version of sc that made it to print was never shown to testers from what i've heard

I understand that, Brett. Let's pass on SC, what about other cards that have never seen the table? One of those has been designed by one of us, not just tested. SC isn't the only failure in ToL. Here's several:

  • SC
  • The spire tile
  • Heavy Fire and Lie in Ambush
  • Creature CCs
  • Signal Jammer
  • CT and Tress
  • Ezra, Kannan and Zeb personal cards

The whole box is so mediocre. The feeling is that it's badly designed and untested. You confirmed it's untested.

1 hour ago, Trevize84 said:

Although I believe only campaign content undergo a proper testing phase, skirmish is marginal.

Which was exactly my suspect...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

In my personal experience, developers and testers are rarely (i.e. never) to blame for faulty content. The responsibility lies with the bosses who make decisions based on developers & testers' work & feedback; often bad/rushed decisions. I have no idea how this works in FFG, but often you have a Line Developer (or similar) who juggles everything, has no power, and gets all the flak from everyone when things go wrong. Above the LD there are higher-ups who make decisions based on a poor understanding of the game, careless pursuits of imagined profit maximations, power struggles, ego, and whim. On top of that there is the under-funded/under-staffed marketing department who have no time or resources to make valued judgment on the games they market, yet very often wield vast amounts of power over said games and what content is released, content that is already late by the time it is dumped on marketing. And then there are a whole slew of random occurrence and weird poodo going on in any business, which very rarely helps anyone involved. So yeah... don't blame developers and testers, all of whom pour love and devotion into the game. Blame the decision makers at the top. ("Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do").

Edit: Know that every time something goes right in a game/franchise, it is basically a small (to huge) miracle.

Edited by angelman2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Trevize84 said:

I understand that, Brett. Let's pass on SC, what about other cards that have never seen the table? One of those has been designed by one of us, not just tested. SC isn't the only failure in ToL. Here's several:

  • SC
  • The spire tile
  • Heavy Fire and Lie in Ambush
  • Creature CCs
  • Signal Jammer
  • CT and Tress
  • Ezra, Kannan and Zeb personal cards

The whole box is so mediocre. The feeling is that it's badly designed and untested. You confirmed it's untested.

Which was exactly my suspect...

I think you're bring a bit harsh on some of that stuff.  A well-played signal jammer cost me one of my two losses at worlds.  The creature cards aren't a problem and are actually pretty good, the bigger issue there is that creatures as a type don't have enough top-flight figure options right now.  I'll also say that I've had a whole lot of fun playing with both Lie in Ambush and with Tress in skirmish.  I didn't bring either with me in my worlds list, sure, but not everything released has to be absolutely top-tier (which would be pretty much the definition of power creep).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Trevize84 said:

Maybe harsh, but let's be honest, this content didn't meet the expectations.

It was a small box expansion. I don't think anyone expected it to massively shake up the meta (although SC certainly did). I'll argue that a lot of those cards you mentioned are fine designs, it's just that hunters are so dominating that no other traits are worth running in Rebels or Mercs.

I will agree that Kanan, Ezra and Zeb are dissapointments. To me it's because they were designed with SC in mind (which is bad design).

Edited by brettpkelly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The skirmish game has always been hobbled thanks to the product model not catering to getting more players. You would need a stripped down starter to make it work. But instead of that I’m pretty sure they are going to try to make a smaller points total version of legion into something that plays well for events.

Imperial assault lost a key designer a year or two ago? They lose their best talent all the time.

If you look FFG no longer hires game designers. they have internships and I’m guessing they may hire through that program but honestly who knows.

Im shocked they have managed to keep Alex Davy for this long.

But as I said it looks likely they are getting better at some things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Trevize84 said:

Actually I believe that all these attempts of having a community-driven skirmish will destroy official support to the game.

I gotta say, that makes no sense at all.  Community interest and investment would certainly not harm the game and probably would cause FFG to take another look at how they could ride the wave of support and make some more money from it.  Even if I don't agree with all the proposed changes (and that is fine) I wholeheartedly applaud the Continuity Project or whatever's efforts.  I would LOVE it if we got an announcement soon and new official plastic to play with but until then I don't see how community-driven stuff could possibly destroy or even harm official support. Most likely it would just be ignored (by FFG) as the game moves on.  Possibly supported or copied in some way.

I still hope we get new stuff.  What's the harm in testing fixes in the meantime?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Don't get me wrong IAContinuity Project is skirmish as it should be if we didn't have campaign. IA production cycle is campaign driven and optimized for that. Skirmish is a plus, but it's not the actual product. Because of that we'll never have updates every 4/6 months as skirmish needs.

My concern is that skirmish at the moment is just a burden for FFG and if community can handle it by itself then they can finally drop the support and develop the campaign without trade-offs.

Edited by Trevize84

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I get that.  Not like there is tons of support anyway.  I still think it can't be harmful.  Except to SPECTRE CELL!  hahahaha.  Remember back when people used to play SC?!  Crazy.  Those were the days.  Now that it's been banned by the community the game is so much more diverse...  mwahahaha.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...