With version 6.0.1 (beta) I’ve returned the Ursus cluster to its original location (where it was when the beta launched a few days ago) and removed it from the bot patrol routes. I realize that this might annoy some of you, so I feel it warrants a bit of an explanation… and an apology if I’ve completely missed the mark with this one.
Aside from the issues it (the cluster) causes with the bots, it also puts somewhat of a barrier(?) in the gameplay and I believe, actually leads to a less interesting type of game in the long run. Essentially, the cluster functions much like a mini-version of Delta/mtrek.pro- both of which were awesome in their own ways, but aside from the variety of ships in mtrek.pro, there was also a lack of depth.
It’s true that 6.0 basically boils down to a classic 4-quadrant layout with some more ships thrown in. But the concept was to include not simply my favorite elements of each version, but to merge the ones that worked best together and formed a sort of chemistry that works -one that adds uncertainty and creates tension which rises from that uncertainty.
A small zone that offers comfort and killing efficiency because all supplies are available, (and targets are plentiful) and offers security (no uncertainty) because there’s an easy save spot right there… is anathema to the concepts of “uncertainty -> tension -> enjoyment”.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the game as a player, is the struggle to balance the risk/reward ratios of your choices. To yes, have confidence that your low-risk options will work, but more importantly, to know that your riskier decisions have the potential to pay off -in both the short term and in the long term. The tough part of making this idea a reality, is that many of the ships are much easier to keep alive now, as compared to 5.x and earlier versions/ships. (I believe I have some pretty sound reasoning behind the ship balancing efforts though.)
I’m relying on decades of familiarity with the classic layout, that tell me, whether against humans or bots, it offers one of the most immersive gaming experiences possible -because no two zones are completely alike. Your priorities and strategies must shift as you move from one area to another, and likewise, when your needs change (supplies, targets, etc.) you have to be able, and willing to adjust your location. I’m definitely -not- saying that it’s lazy or wrong to camp an area where you’re likely to earn a lot of kills, only that it should be just as rewarding to explore other options in addition to a core strategy like that. Those other options being basically, hunting down your prey.
Ultimately, it still rests on the player to decide whether or not he wants to venture out from (for example) sb3/4 to find bots elsewhere in the quad, or even move to another quad altogether for a short while. Certainly, there’s also the opportunity to have ships of different classes saved in several locations (and quadrants) to take advantage of the ever-shifting tide of bots.
As I’ve said before of course, nothing is necessarily “set in stone” for 6.0’s final release, and I’m really interested to see how the beta plays out in its current configuration. I also would really prefer to work with fewer variables throughout the ship-balancing stage of the beta.
I’d like to offer a sincere apology for the disruption and uncertainty (the not-“good” kind of uncertainty) caused by my initial knee-jerk reaction of moving Ursus in the first place. I came into the beta with a pretty solid plan for the release flow and the desired final outcome of 6.0… though I may have nearly derailed the whole thing with this Ursus mess.
The beta is soft-scheduled to run for about 30 days, but there’s no reason that time frame couldn’t be adjusted while issues still need ironing out. As with 5.x, 6.x is planned to be a long-term release, so this is the best time for any needed course corrections. As always, I’d love to hear any feedback on this, or any other aspect of the game. Personally, I’d still prefer to keep as much discussion as possible in the beta-discussion forum topic; I’m only posting this here because this was a particularly tough (but I’m hoping right) decision.