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ArIskandir

On the concept of Submarines and game design

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Open letter to the designers, I hope you find my feedback useful.

Every design starts with an objective, an idea on how to reach that objective and a population target for your design.

I'm not sure of what were the premises you based your design on, I can only guess by the results we can see in game. Accordingly I will point out what I think are fails in your base concept for submarines gameplay. 

As far as I can tell, you are aiming for accessibility and easy play aimed to entice the greatest number of players possible. You do it by keeping the mechanics involved to a bare minimum, the subs can only move, ping and fire, that's it. You can argue that are the same mechanics that applies to other ship classes but that is not the case, the mechanics are simplified down to dumb levels, let´s be specific: 

  • Movement: contrary to other classes, positioning in a sub isn't really determinant. As long as the sub remains in a position where it can be supported by friendly fire, it doesn't need to consider factors as angling and coverage. Movement is simplified to only need to consider spotting range and lines of fire, anything else is very much irrelevant as the sub carries its own hard cover that doesn't limit significantly its combat effectiveness.
  • Aiming/firing: on other ship classes, aiming requires to factor distance, speed and bearing of the target, shell velocity and is also modified by RNG. Also you have to consider angle of the target and penetration values for your target. For a sub the aiming mechanic is limited to land pings on the target, factors are kept also to a minimum as pings have constant speed, linear movement and are unmodified by RNG. Subs ordinance is always effective, disregarding angling of the target and armor values. Coupling ping with homing torps makes aiming trivial and uninteresting.

The result is a class of ship which is very simple to play and has little depth to its gameplay. A gameplay which I foresee being repetitive and boring after a limited number of interactions. There is simply not enough for you as a player to consider or to care for while playing them other than to ping/shoot targets and avoid destroyers. Options are limited, and the ones available are too simple to the point of being dumb.

Maybe the biggest challenge in designing submarine game play is avoid being "boring". By the nature and characteristics of submarines, the play style is expected to be boring. It involves stealth, patience, slow movement, limited opportunities for engaging the enemy, very limited survivability if engaged by the enemy. You try to avoid all those features considered negative for a more "dynamic" approach, the result is something that doesn't resemble a submarine in the slightest, you have designed a "vehicle" full of "gamey" gimmicks without any "flavor of submarine" in it, that breaks the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy the full flavor of this game. 

I kindly ask you to reconsider your design philosophy for this class. It is my firm belief Submarines will never be popular among the majority of players because they are intrinsically boring, your design is still boring for the casual sub players and definitively lacking in depth for the hardcore sub fans. As a hardcore sub fan myself this version of submarines is not fun neither truly enjoyable. I bid you farewell quoting the bible on you... 

Revelation 3:16 

16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

  • Cool 3

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Positioning will matter a lot when it comes to sub play. As of now, CVs are still going to be the king of simplicity.

  • They do not turn well, and thus will not be useful in some areas of the map (depending on the map)
  • They do not have good speed, meaning that you can't reposition yourself quickly
    • You essentially have to make the same sort of decisions low tier US BBs have to make: where do I want to be in 10 minutes, because it will take me forever to get there
  • Sonar is only effective if you can hit both the bow and stern. This means you have to be in a flanking position or risk dealing with a bow- or stern-on opponent

I agree that they seem boring. It is way more interesting to hunt them down than to actually be in one.

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PART 2: Some ideas

So going back to the objective, means and target for submarines, some ideas for you to consider from a player who wants to play submarines.

  • Target: Considering there is presumably a very large number of players who have no interest at all in playing submarines and that the indecisive and lukewarm  seems to be very few. The obvious target is reduced to the players who have an actual interest in playing subs.
  • Objective: On the one hand you have a core of players already won to the "submarine cause", as long as you deliver something entertaining and interesting to play. On the other hand you have another significant group of players you don't want to antagonize by forcing a game mode/mechanic on them. You need to focus on delivering something entertaining for the sub player and not too disrupting for the rest of the player base.
  • Means to the objective: Here is where things might go very divergent. What I´m going to propose is probably a risky bet, but one I will try to explain and sustain. As the current state of the game, we have 3 surface ship classes, each with its own defined role and playstyle of varied difficulty and complexity, we also have planes with an easier accessibility and skill floor requirements for the easy going crowd. I say, instead of going with subs the same way as with CVs, dare going the complete opposite way. Design the subs as the most complex, most difficult class to master, make them a challenge and something unique among all other games out there (as was the original concept with your ships, it wasn't meant to be another arcadish shooter). Aim for something resembling a simulation, that's what the hardcore sub players long for (have in mind the casuals have no significant interest in playing the class). Of course you want to monetize and recoup the investment, I think by now you have established the biggest portion from the income comes from a minority of players expending significantly on the game than from vast number of players expending once in a while. By catering to the dedicated sub players I think you would harness better benefits than from a more wide approach aimed to an uninterested majority. Also important is integrating the new content in a non-disrupting way for the rest of the player base. The obvious course is a separated game mode/scenarios and maybe integration on Randoms as a special mode (think Epicenter, Arms race, etc) where you drop 1-2 submarines max in addition  to the regular line-up with a special setup of rules (more on that later). 

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19 minutes ago, guns_at_last_light said:

Positioning will matter a lot when it comes to sub play. As of now, CVs are still going to be the king of simplicity.

  • They do not turn well, and thus will not be useful in some areas of the map (depending on the map)
  • They do not have good speed, meaning that you can't reposition yourself quickly
    • You essentially have to make the same sort of decisions low tier US BBs have to make: where do I want to be in 10 minutes, because it will take me forever to get there
  • Sonar is only effective if you can hit both the bow and stern. This means you have to be in a flanking position or risk dealing with a bow- or stern-on opponent

I agree that they seem boring. It is way more interesting to hunt them down than to actually be in one.

What I mean is the variables you account for positioning are really few, as you well said (and I said too in my OP) the sub only needs to position to have an effective field of fire. And be safe enough to prevent being rushed by a DD 

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25 minutes ago, ArIskandir said:

(snip)

Despite your reasonable explanation as to why subs are boringly simple; to me they have been the exact opposite.

Hooray. I can drive them around without any trouble.

Actually hit anything though?

Forget it. I only hit things with torpedoes four times total during the previous PTs.

If someone isn’t able to judge lead with ZERO aim assist, (a reticle or torpedo style lead guide,) then using the ping aim is an impossible task and a complete joke. The only thing it accomplishes is draining your battery and revealing you to the reds.

Meaning, if you have to surface to use the lead guide available there, you might as well just play a destroyer.

Including the reasons you’ve given; subs are boring as hell to me because I can’t hit anything with them.

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20 minutes ago, Estimated_Prophet said:

 

If someone isn’t able to judge lead with ZERO aim assist, (a reticle or torpedo style lead guide,) then using the ping aim is an impossible task and a complete joke. The only thing it accomplishes is draining your battery and revealing you to the reds.

Meaning, if you have to surface to use the lead guide available there, you might as well just play a destroyer.

Including the reasons you’ve given; subs are boring as hell to me because I can’t hit anything with them.

I'm for to having a reticule aiming  system for torps (which limits firing to periscope Depth and surface). Not the simplified aim assit from DDs nor the ping thing. 

Targeting by reticule you might choose to use a ping to get a quick fire solution on your torps (aka the aim assits on surface torpedo ships) with the downside of the target gaining knowledge it is being targeted. Else you aim and fire your torps by reticule Only and the target never gets a warning

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Just finished the 5 games in sub mode mission, no sub to play of course 'cause why give you subs to try in a sub mission, and I can see no reason to play any ship that doesn't have ASW capabilities. It became rather boring after a while. When I played DD's I just ignored the subs until late game.

With depth charges can we get a circle/range indicator like for guns/torps/AA, etc?

Big thing for me is the stupid spotting mechanic for subs. Ok a sub can spot you using Hydro/Ping but if you are below periscope depth you should not be able to spot for your team. That became annoying fast.

Nice try for an alpha test WG, go back an have another go.

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