Welcome back for this weeks State of the Game! While I have been very hard at work on the next update for MAV, I wanted to take a look back at the January update to see how it went.
So, part of why I like to track data and look at data is because I not only use it to help make decisions, but also validate the choices that I do make. Not every choice can be 100% grounded in data, so it’s always good to validate after the fact to ensure your ‘gut’ is still calibrated correctly. This was the case with leaving Steam as a platform [Which is working out fantastically I might add!] and for sure a big change like the January update, this is a good use case.
So to recap, we have 3 major additions in the update, the inclusion of the No Man’s Pass level, the Skynet AI update, and the large balance update. I want to first look at these in total, then breakdown each addition itself.
Overall the release of the update saw a 300% rise in daily active players, generating a new all time high of active players in MAV. So far January is set to increase the number of active players by 30% over the December numbers. This is good news as it means I am doing something right and getting more and more people not only joining MAV but also getting into the game and playing. As we all know, MAV fun increases the more people you have to play with! In addition to this, players are tending to play MAV about 10% longer in January then they ever have before. This is helpful as it helps increase the number of ‘collisions’ between players online, increasing the chances they will play together online.
No Man’s Pass
This level was a long time in the making and it was always a disappointment to me that it was not finished for the Beta launch. Looking at the numbers, it is currently the 4th most popular level. Part of this is just the ‘new’ factor of the level and the cult like following it had. I will keep monitoring this metric to see how well it performs overall. It was primarily designed as a siege style map and as that game type becomes more popular my hope is that the popularity of No Mans Pass will also increase.
The skynet system seems to be a very big success so far. The Skynet system has examined ~15,000 builds and narrowed this down to a selection of ~1000 ‘winning’ build designs. From this it has created 475 viable builds that it cycles into play. There is currently no metric to see how effective a Skynet build is as it’s cycled in other than it getting repooled back into the ‘winning’ build pool. I am not sure if I will add this fitness function to the core skynet logic or just leave the ‘cycle’ affect in play as the mechanism to generate build churn. I think I will wait until I have a full month of data before approaching the problem.
The Balance Update
This one is a bit trickier to digest into just pure numbers. The first metric I have been monitoring is the Time to Death and Time to Kill metric. These seem very similar, but do measure slightly different items. The time to death starts the timer as soon as a player is spawned. It continues to count up time until that player is destroyed. The time to kill metric only starts the timer when the first damage has been received. By using these metrics together we can determine the time till engagement as well! The good news is, the lowest time to kill reported is 25 seconds, meaning there has not been a SINGLE 1 hit death since the new balance changes. This is a significant achievement of the balance changes and something I was specifically trying to address. One item that is NOT captured by data and I will need to continue to monitor is the feeling of ‘power’ behind weapons. Blowing stuff up in a single hit tends to make people feel more powerful, so I want to ensure I am still indexing how the player experience of feeling like you are in a big powerful mech. Part of this is the environment destruction and allowing those 1 hit kills to happen outside of core gameplay.
Another key indicator for the time to kill is the player level. Currently, the player level seems to give zero indications into what the time to kill would be. What would be bad is if there was a clear line of kills getting significantly easier as you leveled up [this would indicate you got better parts] or if time to kill was still very low at low levels [this would indicate splash damage was still a problem at low levels]. So far, it seems like the balance pass has done a significant step forward to achieving the goals I had. One side effect of the balance pass is the time players spend in the garage is up 60% week over week! Everyone is figuring out new ways to use the parts!
Overall, that is a good overview of the metrics I have been gathering and monitoring to validate the balance choices and production choices for January. While I know the January update has received some good praise from the playerbase directly, I do always want to have some automated metrics to act as guide lines so I can ensure I am meeting the expectations of the less vocal audience as well. Happy MAVing! See you next week!