Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Leaderboard changes and the new Influence score

If you've been participating in the alpha, you may be familiar with the Leaderboards window, which shows the players who have advanced the most in the game:



In its current form, the "Score" column is just the amount of XP a player has collected. XP is gained by doing shipments, upgrading planets, researching artifacts and completing achievements. Nobody ever loses XP, so it's an indication of how long someone has been playing, and their overall level of progress.

There are major issues with using XP for the leaderboards:
  • It rewards whoever is playing the most. If a player near the top doesn't log in for a day or two, they will most certainly lose their spot. 
  • Players who started playing the game later don't have much hope of catching up. 
  • Spending Crystals can directly translate into more XP (i.e. by buying more shipments or Artifacts, or buying the resources to upgrade planets). 
  • There is no risk of ever losing XP, so there's little movement and excitement at the top of the leaderboards. 
This is why on the next update we're completely changing how Leaderboards are calculated. We are introducing a new resource called "Influence". Influence is an indicator of the overall power a Player/Empire has to affect change in the Hades Galaxy. Initially, Influence will be used just for the leaderboards, but we want to explore more potential features that are related to this metric. 

Players gain Influence mainly via military operations in Red Stars. We are re-designing Red Stars so they start off very easy, but will keep the difficulty high on the very high level Red Stars. As of the next update, we will also allow players to start a Red Star search for any lower level star that their scanner supports. This should help with coordinating Red Star matches between players. It will also address the issue where players could be punished for upgrading their scanner too early. 

Each Red Star level has its own thresholds for awarding Influence. Very easy Level 1 Red Stars will award Influence to a player even if they only destroy one Cerberus Sentinel, but only up to a certain Influence limit. After they reach that limit, players have to upgrade their scanner and go to higher level stars if they want to continue gaining Influence. 

Players can also lose Influence, if they initiate a Red Star mission and then immediately abandon the star, or fail to meet the quotas of that star's level (i.e. because they didn't retrieve enough Artifacts or didn't destroy enough Cerberus ships).

Influence is gained collectively by all players that participate in the Red Star mission. As long as they contributed anything, everyone will be awarded based on the group's result. For example, on a Level 3 Red Star, you might have 3 participating players who destroyed 5 Cerberus ships total. One of the players only sent one battleship in, and that battleship did less overall damage than the other players' battleships and didn't destroy any single ship on its own. Still, all 3 players will be awarded Influence. Success or failure in Red Stars is always collective. It is our intent that very high level Red Stars should require increasingly more sophisticated coordination between multiple players to gain Influence.

Influence is also a metric that applies to a Corporation. A Corporation's Influence is derived by the individual Influence scores of its members. The Corporation leaderboards will use this new metric. We expect that competitive Leaderboard players will want to increase Influence not only for themselves, but also for their Corporations. The cooperative nature of Red Stars, as well as private Red Star searches from within Corporations that we will be adding in a future update, will help do exactly that.

As a final note, our design decisions account for the fact that not everyone is playing the game to climb the leaderboards. Our goal and hope for this system is to make it a challenging and fan aspect for the people who want to participate, and completely invisible for the ones who don't. It's perfectly fine to play Red Stars just for the fun of it and for collecting a few artifacts or Hydrogen every now and then. Our goal is to not make those players feel like they are missing out by not maximizing their Influence score. We do believe very high level Red Stars will be fun to try and beat with other players, but at the same time we won't be forcing everyone to play them (for example, we won't be hiding exclusive Module blueprints in those difficult Red Stars - it will still be possible to unlock all modules without playing the very hard Red Stars). 

Influence points will be introduced on our final alpha update, coming next week. Each existing player will be assigned an initial Influence score based on their XP, but after that Influence will be calculated independently based on the results of Red Star missions.

We will still be keeping XP and Empire Level as a general indicator of each player's progress, but that metric will be mostly decorational from now on.

As always, all thoughts and feedback are welcome. See you in game!

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