I’m posting this here in Acid Goop because there was already a discussion thread from July and I don’t feel like it belongs there right now.
First and foremost, the larva queue’s design is not entirely faulty, and it serves its purpose. But what it does is punish players for playing the game, and punishing latejoin players for not playing the game. It’s a double trouble type of deal, and I’ll explain to you why it does that and how it completely ruins the flow of playability.
For starters, I’ve studied the queue and how it works and came to a conclusion: It’s manipulative, and you can indeed manipulate it yourself to get into fun situations. If you turn off the larva queue preference, you are still automatically being counted in the larva queue, since the time you died and/or ghosted is still taken into effect. Which means, if you ghost for a long time and decide to become an Xeno, it doesn’t matter who was in front of the larva queue, you can just butt your way right back into 1st place!
I actually did this on a round on purpose to become a Predalien, and it was actually a very lucky scenario. I timed it perfectly, butted myself into first place of the larva queue through the manipulation and bursted out of the predator. Why does this matter? Because it completely crushes the motivation of the player who was previously in 1st place. Imagine the distraught when they found out they got shoved to 2nd place and didn’t get to try their hand at Predalien. And yes that makes me a jackass somewhat, and I’m sorry to whatever poor sap had to deal with a (in a nice way) poorly designed game mechanic.
Second topic! Player retention. As a game design student, I’ve been making games and studying mechanics, models, frameworks, design documents, you name it for years and years. I think it’s been about 7-8 years now, and so I hope you’ll take that into consideration when I say that player retention and attention is very very important. How else can you keep a thriving community? Well, with the current larva queue, this sort of becomes a problem. The model of the gameplay as it stands is not 100% in line with the design of the larva queue, and by that I mean there are limited opportunities to play as what you want in the game. If you’ve played a game like Dragon Ball The Breakers, you’ll know about the raider priority system, and how it had a new system implemented to allow people to play as they wanted it to be. This was due to players not wanting to sit around and wait to be able to play as a raider after 5+ games as survivor. And like I said, the current model of CM SS13 does not support a queue with these features, as there are limited Xenos someone can play as that derive from a larva. It’s hard to keep player retention going if they are unable to even join the game after 1 hour or more of observing. It’s just flawed in that capacity, and it must be changed if you wish players to feel more comfortable playing as Xeno. Perhaps some way to gain larva surges by fulfilling certain requirements other than building comms pylons and capturing. Yes, capturing is a big part of playing Xeno, but it definitely isn’t easy. You have to risk your life to capture almost every time, and if you lose a life, that practically nullifies the purpose of that capture, making it a gamble every time. That means you’re not only gambling on xenos being able to capture, but also gambling on being able to respawn within the next 2 hours of waiting in the larva queue, lest someone join the game and skip your spot in the queue.
Next, I was reading up on that discussion and found a maintainer specifically stating that if the xeno that died didn’t capture enough Marines for larva queue to pass, then that was just a wasted life. It’s not fair to assume that you can capture enough Marines to pass through a 10-20 player larva queue during high pop, and a 5-8 on average queue on low pop, especially when the Queen expects you not to throw your life away or do risky plays. I feel like that take was based on an assumption that all Xenos have incredible skill and can capture marines who hold left click and hover their mouse on you while you do it. Good teamwork can definitely help Xenos capture, but most of the time, it doesn’t do enough to fast forward you to the front of the queue. If you are an Xeno and capture 3 Marines, I’d say you’re definitely a star player in the hive. But even so, you’re going nowhere in the queue.
Player attention is also important. Similar to retention, it keeps the players invested, and you can’t do that easily with this queue. The average joe who comes home from work and sits down to play CM SS13 doesn’t want to wait 30-50 minutes to play the game, and if they die, they have to wait for either round end or hijack to spawn back in, and as we know, that can take up to 2-3 hours! Do you expect us to watch YouTube or write super long shitposts on Acid Goop based on the larva queue while we wait? ()
Please. For your supportive players, listen to their requests and modify the larva queue to be more user friendly.