Greetings, I’m Sungjun Choi, the Shadow Arena Development Team Lead.
Following on from the last two weeks, I would like to discuss with you some of the main issues that players often inform us of.
1. Matching System
2. Desync Issue
3. Absence of Competitions
4. Mastery Balance
| Matching System
The current matching system is designed to create lobbies depending on the number of players currently on the server. A matching system didn’t exist when early access was first available, and only began to be developed during early access. Over time, it was constantly modified and improved to become the matching system we have today.
The current system uses a player’s tier, number of kills, survival time, wins, and average ranking to evaluate their performance level. The system will then use this data to distribute players of a similar level to each lobby. The more concurrent users there are, the more accurate the matchmaking becomes.
However, this also means that with less people the matches often feel “one-sided” due in part to how the matchmaking system distributes players of different skills. If the system creates more lobbies despite there only being a few players online, the quality of the matches would improve, but it would take a very long time for their to be enough players to start.
The development team have had many discussions on how to resolve this dilemma. We started off by putting all players that were level 3 and lower in one lobby, added AIs in accordance to the players’ levels, and even created more detailed requirements for the matchmaking system. We also tried to implement a variety of other changes, but were unable to come up with a concrete solution to solve the issue concerning a lack of players.
Therefore, we decided to divert our focus to ways of bringing more users in, so the development team has been working hard to improve the tutorial and other content to attract and keep new users. We are also working to establish more competitions and events to find and attract skilled players.
| Desync Issue
We’ve made huge improvements since the first days of early access, but still face difficulties trying to solve the core of the problem. We have had issues such as dash distance becoming shorter, creating short teleports, multi-hits being used to create short stuns, and players with bad ping desyncing constantly. We are always trying to find ways to solve these issues, but please understand that it takes a lot of time and data to eliminate these issues once and for all.
We are also planning to see if moving our physcial servers will help solve the desync issue. Although, we will be making small in-game changes to improve the desync issue, our main focus will still be the overall improvement of the game. We will put the majority of our focus on solving the desync issue once we complete our initial development plans.
| Absence of Competitions
We are well aware of the fact that tournaments serve as powerful motivators that fuel the hype among our fervant Shadow Arena fans. However, we would like to point out that following the renewal of the game, we’ve spent a considerable amount of our resources trying to stabilize it, making it rather difficult to host tournaments. However, this of course is no excuse for not hosting any, so we apologize to all of our players and fans who have been waiting for an opportunity to show off their skills in our tournaments.
At this point, the team is now ready to begin preparing for tournaments. We're currently planning for our next tournament to be held in tandem with our replay feature update. We expect this to occur no later than August, and are currently trying our best not to keep fans waiting too much longer. We thank you for your patience.
| Mastery Balance
The Mastery update was a bit rushed in terms of its development and testing. Please bear in mind that it typically takes at least 3 weeks to fully flesh out the nitty-gritty quality checks required before the release of a single hero. During this time, countless fixes on top of more fixes take place right up until the very last moment prior to the update.
Mastery involved the development of 21 different skills for all currently available heroes in just two weeks. Prior to the update, we tried our best to test skills and perform fixes where they were needed, but it turned out that those two weeks were simply not enough time to raise the quality of the game or tweak the game's balance to a satisfactory level. We apologize for not meeting the expectations of our fans and players.
Game balancing is an endless endeavor. Despite this, we promise all of our fans and players that we'll still continue to make an effort to balance the game's heroes to a level that's acceptable by everyone out there. Thank you for your continued support and interest in the game.
I would first like to aplogize since we wanted to inform you last week but ended up being a week late. No matter how much we’ve wanted to explain our situation, it just felt as if our sincerity could not be fully conveyed within the confines of a post. Instead, we wanted to have a small meeting with some of our players.
We weren’t able to inform all our players about this meeting, but we held an online Q&A session last Monday with three of our long-time players. For the whole 2.5 hours of the meeting, we were both gratfeul, but also saddened to hear of the issues our players were experiencing.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our players for their valuable feedback.
The following covers the questions and answers that were relayed during that meeting.
| July 19, 2021 Online QnA Main Points
- Pearl Abyss: SungJun Choi, Inyoung Do, Jieun Oh
- Participants: 강초한(Kang Cho-Han), Hyejin Fiora, Reh
Q. It’s unfortunate to see the number of skills decreasing. Since the renewal, the ability to combo to other skills has disappeared, so it’s not as fun compared to the prior version of Shadow Arena.
A. We agree that the decreased number of skills and combos is unfortunate. However, we thought new users would find the experience unenjoyable if they were constantly finding themselves helplessly being damaged by a never-ending flurry of devastating combos. We are working to achieve the right balance between the previous and current version of Shadow Arena in regards to improving both the accessibility and enjoyability of the game.
Q. In Trio Mode, it is really important to consider other players’ skills. Was this really in consideration for new users?
A. When developing any content, we always consider both current and new users, and aim to provide accessible content that players can delve deeper into as they gain more experience. We are reviewing these aspects and once we agree on a direction, we will start the patch process. Since this may not be the right solution, we will continue receiving feedback through FGT surveys and review these aspects more closely.
Q. Is the same vision system in Trio Mode also going to be applied to Solo Mode?
A. The opinions reagarding this aspect are divded evenly within the planning team, and we are reviewing this from all aspects. After the Solo Mode update, we will work towards improving the system in consideration of users’ feedback as well.
Q. There are both pros and cons to bringing back the old vision system, as well as keeping the current system with the restrictive aspects. It is concerning that skills that are used in ranged situations will almost always be required to use ‘Beacon of Light’ due to the restrictive aspects.
A. Although there may be restrictions in vision, the current situation will not remain the same, and we are working towards providing a more strategic way of using this feature.
Q. We hope that you are considering a system where the vision changes depending on the object. For example, the game could be played much more strategically if the vision can be increased when the Shadow Lords do not appear but decreased when they do.
A. That’s a great idea, and one we can try out.
Q. Trio’s far starting point is a little problematic.
A. We are trying to set a different starting point for Solo Mode than the one for Trio. In Trio, this was necessary as players had to see what their team members were doing, but the starting point for Solo Mode will be set in consideration of its own environment.
Q. Improvements seem to be needed for difficulties such as the bush and fence features in the current Solo Mode.
A. Issues were once spotted by watching streaming videos, and were then addressed the moment we saw them. Similar to what was mentioned above, we were not aware of this particular issue, but it is something we can improve right away.
Q. As mentioned in last week’s Dev Notes, what plans do you have for the 1:1 matches?
A. When a skill is used, players can dash forward and create an area to trap their enemies. Although enemies will be able to escape this situation using evade, if a CC is applied at the right time, you will be able to keep them trapped. To avoid giving certain Heroes too much advantage, we are still in the process of reviewing this.
Q. Will all the new upcoming Heroes have a mastery system?
A. They will, yes.
Q. Kick/Dash attack/Dash jump attack seem to be needed in solo mode.
A. We are not considering the kick feature at the moment. If kick is implemented, we worry that it may be too different from trio mode, and in the case of implementing the kick feature, it puts us in the danger of possibly changing the entire spec of the game. We are in consideration of dash attack and dash jump attack. The initial intentions were to add in a similar feature to ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ with an escaping enemy. Although this has been scratched off the list, we are working towards implementing something similar to this. However, for it to be perfected, it will require a long reviewing process.
Q. If solo and trio mode coexist, will the character balance be the same?
A. Some aspects will be the same, while others could be changed. We are in the process of reviewing various aspects. The basic stats and various other balance changes may be applied only to the solo mode.
Q. How about re-applying the stiffness effect we had in the beginning? I think it is neccessary to add this feature in solo mode, as long as bugs related to it are fixed.
A. Without the stiffness effect, basic attacks have become less impactful. As long as the stiffness effect doesn’t make the other player feel unpleasant and no other issues exist, it’s definitely worth considering. For now, we removed the effect due to the unpleasant feeling players received when inflicted by the effect.
Q. Can you add a damage display function?
A. Our main focus is on the action, and we are currently thinking of ways to make the damage display work well with the action. We will apply it as quickly as we can to the Training Camp.
Q. I hope we’ll be able to adjust the placement of the HP bar or have it appear at the bottom of the screen.
A. We will give this improvement serious consideration.
Q. Are there any plans on making features to bring out the unique aspects of each region, if a new map is not going to be added?
A. We are currently planning this, and are thinking of ways our players can experience the different aspect of each region by adding a feature where the circle can be moved slightly from the middle.
Q. The highest tiers and ranks are neither recognized nor rewarded for their accomplishments. Are there any plans to change this?
A. We're planning to release an update to address this issue in early August, and are preparing rewards such as titles or outifts to give players the recognition they deserve.
Q. Trolls are ruining the Training Camp by interfering with players trying to better their skills. Is it possible to introduce an ignore skill function or an unlimited battle mode?
A. We're aware of this issue and are currently working on a solution.
Q. I would like to practice fighting bosses or practice using Aal's Eye.
A. Those were some of the things we considered as we were tweaking the Training Camp system, and we plan to introduce features that will make something akin to sandbox play possible.
Q. What is Enslar?
A. Although we do have plans to introduce Enslar, we probably won't be doing so for some time since it's close to the end of our to do list. We thought that it would be most appropriate to introduce a god as a character after about 30 to 40 Hero releases. The game's lore tells of the fact that Enslar is a god. The story of Venslar (originally Bella) would be a case in point. Bella, who adores Enslar, takes after her favorite god and decides to change her name to Venslar. Unfortunately, we're still a way away from introducing Enslar in the game.
Q. Are in-game weather effects being developed?
A. Although we did plan to introduce weather effects in the future, we haven't made it a priority. We plan to have conditions like snow slow movement speeds, or rain decrease DP. This feature unfortunately requires considerable resources that we currently do not have.
Q. It would be great if more AI characters like Venslar were added.
A. We intend to slowly add these one by one.
Q. Why isn’t the issue that occurs when sharing vision with your allies not being fixed quickly?
A. We made some changes previously, but the issue where you cannot share vision with your allies is still being checked. We will try our best to fix it as soon as possible.
Q. When will the ghost in the Training Camp and jump gate issues be fixed?
A. We have actually already fixed the jump gate issue but will check this again. We have also been able to confirm that the ghost issue occurs when you log in/out, so we have fixed this by making a ghost re-appear when you log in/out.
Q. It’s so inconvenient to go in and out of the Training Camp when switching characters or to change my mastery. Can this be improved?
A. This is definitely a system we should improve upon, and we do have plans to do so. However, we ask for your patience as it may take a while.
Q. Both Black Desert and Shadow Arena have chronic issues like skill acceleration.
A. This is something we can definitely fix, but it will take a lot of time to do so. We are holding back on fixing this issue as we need to verify what follow-up issues might occur when we implement this improvement. Once we are done with what we have planned for development, we will look into it.
Q. I hope you take the time to check up on issues that affect play before the patch. I personally report many issues, but I hope you can fix them before we notice.
A. We would like to apologize for that. We don’t have much time when we make patches, and as you’ve rightly pointed out, we have little time to perform these necessary checks. We will endeavor to improve this process so more thorough checks can be performed.
Q. I would like to see more items or weapon skins that change skill effects. For dyes, an item like Merv’s Palette in Black Desert would be nice. Having to randomly choose after obtaining a dye box is not a very pleasant experience.
A. Currently, we have not attached as much importance to saleable items as we have other areas. As such, we have no plans of launching new items as of yet. Right now, we want to prioritize adapting content for new players and focus on polishing the game to perfection. We hope you understand. Rather than launching a new item, we would rather add a new skill effect to weapons which can then become an in-game objective.
Q. Why have you not continued marketing?
A. Before we officially open, we intend to have a small FGT or QnA session to receive direct feedback from our players. When we believe that we have an environment set for new players to adapt well to, we will come up with a large-scale marketing plan.
Q. Can you do events like Black Desert’s Heidel Ball? I wish you would keep uploading QnA videos like before.
A. It’s difficult to realistically hold a big event at the moment, but we will keep having small sessions like these and we also plan on answering questions based on advance surveys just like the QnA videos we used to upload.
Q. I’m not motivated to play the game because there are no competitions. Will there be any competitions in the future?
A. We purposely decided not to hold competitions after our renewal, but we do intend to hold them again. For now, we can tell you that we are preparing an event-type competition in August and a different, larger-scale, competition in September.
Q. Shouldn’t there be more rewards for partner influencers? There’s currently little motivation to do so.
A. We admit we haven’t focused a great deal on our Partner Influencer program recently. But we will have different seasons for the program, and have a whole new program introduced for the upcoming season in August. We will also keep providing rewards for events and competitions, in addition to providing objectives and adding exclusive titles or skins, or providing an opportunity to communicate with the developers. We are currently working on ways to provide new content for our influencers before it launches, but since it requires development, we are unsure whether we can apply this system next season.
Q. I hope you will consider ways for us to provide help by revising the wiki guides or creating content for the official YouTube page.
A. We would like to express our gratitude for providing this help, but also apologize for the lack of ways to do so. We will work on these things one by one, and will try to let you know what we need to develop. We will also try to instantly apply improvements based on your feedback.
Q. Can’t you upload the patch notes a little faster?
A. We have considered that, but realistically speaking, we are on a tight schedule for the confirmation of our Korean patch notes, and we also cannot overlook the time it takes to translate them into different languages. We wanted to upload patch notes for the Korean website only after they were translated into all the other languages, as it would be unfair otherwise for players in different countries. Even so, we are considering uploading the patch notes as soon as they are finished being translated. We will also work on providing translations more quickly if possible.
Q. Can you at least tell us a brief schedule of the things you said you were going to develop? Can you present a roadmap?
A. We couldn’t give you a detailed schedule before our notices went out because we didn’t want to make promises to our players that we couldn’t keep. If you don’t mind us notifying you when changes occur, we will try to be more transparent. We will also try to provide a roadmap.
This online QnA session was extremely meaningful for us, and we hope in the future to continue organizing small-scale conversations such as these with our players. But for those who lack the time for such detailed conversations, we plan to open a bulletin board on the official website where developers can give direct answers to users’ questions. We also plan to have a roadmap prepared around the start of the next season.
In the next developer note, I'll try to go a little deeper into some of the topics discussed in the QnA. But for now, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the players who have shown us such continued love and support despite our shortcomings. Thank you.