I (and many others) hate the larva queue

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? (:eyes:)

Please. For your supportive players, listen to their requests and modify the larva queue to be more user friendly.

Do you have any suggestions to improve the queue? I kinda agree that your spot in queue should probably be based on the time you got yourself in the queue, not on the time you died, so you wouldn’t be able to cut into the line.

The queue system is still better than pure RNG, I think you should agree on that. All the problems you mentioned (except cutting) apply to the RNG too, while the RNG system has its own problems.

The idea of just giving more larva simply doesn’t work because it would massively break the balance of the game.

My biggest problem is how dying as lesser drone or face hugger seems to kick you out of the queue for 5 minutes. I’ve seen devs say that’s not the case and I’ve even looked at the code and it seems like that shouldn’t be the case but in all of my experience it clearly is. When you die as face hugger and lesser drone it will say “you are awaiting placement in the larva queue” for 5 minutes after your death, and I have NEVER respawned during this time frame ever. If anyone has ever experienced respawning as a larva via larva queue within 5 minutes after dying I would love to hear it because to me it seems impossible.
Hugger and Lesser Drone are supposed to be free respawn roles you play while waiting for your position in the queue to go up but if they not only stop you respawning for 5 minutes but also stop you from even checking your placement in the queue, they really fail at that job.

And yes, I know that when you eventually get put back in the queue your placement will be based on your original time of death, that’s not what I’m complaining about.

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It didn’t originally (late joiners were the front of the queue), but based on player feedback it needed to.

The only thing you manipulated was the number other players saw in their current queue status. Leaving queue and then turning it back on when you know something is about to pop doesn’t ultimately change anything. It is only going to give the larva to the player who is currently a valid candidate that has been waiting the longest based on time of death. In other words, since you were the longest out of game, if it gave the larva to you, then in that moment you were the person that had been waiting the longest.

Secondly, predaliens are basically the only exception now - and an extremely rare occurrence - where there is ever a highly desired larva that someone would want. Nested larva vs unnested bursts was also in this situation, but that was addressed by requiring confirmation from the xeno candidate to take an unnested burst. Corrupt hive larva vs regular hive larva could also maybe be in this group, but I don’t think it is significant. If/when game ending xeno castes are added via pylons they also would be more desirable, but I don’t think players will know when these larva will pop so I don’t think there is really much reliable way to do the same in this situation.

Space Station 13 is a game where rounds can take hours to finish, and CM is no exception to this. It is entirely unreasonable from an accessibility standpoint to expect someone to be able to glue themself to the computer for the entire duration. The RNG larva selection would require this if you wanted the best chance of getting into the game (as in you must ensure you remain connected and not afk for an indefinite duration). If you are in the round there isn’t a whole lot you can do about this other than try to go somewhere safe for you to go AFK and hope when you come back you are still alive. In the case of waiting to be a burst as xeno because you died earlier, or just late joined and want to play xeno, the larva queue accommodates this by sorting merely by time of death rather than time entered queue. You’re free to disconnect (intentionally or unintentionally), play something else (either as a ghost role like facehugger or lesser drone - or something external to CM) without penalty to the queue. All the queue does is give larva to whoever is a valid candidate in that moment that has been dead the longest.

I assume you’re referring to Rework larva queue - #49 by Drulikar

Larva are in short supply so don’t squander your life that the queue prioritizes giving you. If the hive sucks at capturing marines, then that hive is likely to fall regardless.

So I think you’ve misinterpreted whats said. Otherwise find the quote/link it rather than paraphrase it since I’m sure it can be explained or elaborated.

That is exactly the problem here. For people who latejoin as larva, which can still take up to 20 minutes even if you observed and ghosted early into the round, dying forces you to wait a significantly longer period of time just to play again. Why is this so bad? Well, imagine dying in a game like Team Fortress 2 and not being able to respawn for 30 minutes. Wouldn’t you feel like you’d rather play a different game? It all boils down to the retention topic. Yes, you can go and play a different game then come back to play CM SS13 when you feel like the larva queue moved. But that’s a BIG problem. If your solution to not being able to play the game is “Play a different game” then you’ll end up losing players because they’ll feel like it isn’t worth the wait no more.

Yes on the discussion post I mentioned I feel like it would’ve been nice to at least try the idea that you join a queue when you press a button and then your place cannot be modified as often in that queue. First come, first serve, make it so you can’t join the queue if you’re on death cooldown (the 5 minute rejoin timer). The reason I believe that system might be more handy is that it keeps a definitive time you can practically imagine before being able to respawn as a Larva. So if you were to join the larva queue in 5th place, you could assume that you’ll be able to play a different game while you wait. And you don’t even need to punish the player for leaving the game, let their place in the queue stay recorded so if they would’ve been in 1st place but ended up leaving, if they rejoin, THEN you can butt them into the first place. It’s like asking someone to “keep your spot” in a line at the movie theater checkout while you go play an arcade game, it means someone joined, wanted to play, ended up joining the queue, found out how long it was, left to go play a different game while they wait, and if they rejoin they can then play larva quite early and that in turn fulfills what makes the new queue so favorable while also not punishing the dead Xenos.

I actually forgot to mention this in the original post. So I found out that playing as a hugger and hugging someone does not alter your place in the queue, playing and DYING as a hugger does end up resetting your position if temporary or permanently pushing you to the back of the queue. Playing as a lesser drone is immediately signing away your position in the queue because you can’t physically fulfill any objective as the lesser, if you die or ghost, your position is reset. I can’t believe I forgot to mention that because yes the game does specifically mention that you will not be punished for playing as hugger or lesser, and it’s a great demotivation to join as those if you want to also play as a larva caste.

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We cannot simply add more larva without upturning the balance, but both facehuggers and lesser drones are fairly recent additions that practically are ghost roles.

Not intended per Facehuggers now bypass time of death checks when joining as Larva by Ben10083 · Pull Request #3940 · cmss13-devs/cmss13 · GitHub and Lesser Drones by morrowwolf · Pull Request #3939 · cmss13-devs/cmss13 · GitHub and assuming that RenaRenaRe is Rena in this thread, they already identified and PR’d a fix: Fix hugger/lesser drone time of death bypass by RenaRenaRe · Pull Request #4334 · cmss13-devs/cmss13 · GitHub

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