Starbase's Top Issues #3: Developer Intervention

Vexus

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
276
#1
Hello,

Starbase is a game where your actions matter; for example, every projectile shot from every weapon represents material mined from the asteroid belts by players. When developers get involved and either help players (with good intentions) or even favor certain players, this can disrupt the balance and enjoyment of the game at large. Usually a request for help from a player comes in the mode of an in-game report or other communication where the player reports they have experienced some loss and would like help by receiving compensation for their loss from the game devs. Support devs may then issue either material and/or credit refunds to the player.

There are many issues to this if the game is to be taken seriously as a living universe. First, not all players who encounter a loss due to bugs or some unknown situation will think to ask for compensation. Sometimes the loss could have been from genuine gameplay, but the outcome was unexpected and the player is disgruntled. This ends up favoring the loudest and most communicative players over those who don’t know about the system or who otherwise don’t feel it appropriate to ask for developer intervention. Secondly, this behavior doesn’t scale well with many players, as the more players you have encountering issues and expecting refunds of materials and credits, the more work a developer has to do responding to tickets. As the number of tickets increases, the developer is incentivized to do less investigation into each individual report, and will end up approving nearly any complaint, leaving room for abuse in the game world. Next, the situation ends up souring players’ trust in the developers as it can be seen that some people are favored when they request help with a situation and receive that help. As each material and credit in the game is (or should/is intended to be) generated by player activity, when you issue any amount of free resources to a player with no effort cost, it dilutes the value of the otherwise player-generated economy.

I have personally received help along these lines from devs, although I wasn't happy in asking. My reasoning ended up being that if everyone else was getting free stuff when they encountered a problem, I'd be at a disadvantage not to. One time my ship bugged out and simply disappeared (I later found that this bug places your ship 5000m away from you on a certain axis). To me it seemed like my ship disappeared completely. I asked for help and I think I received some kind of credit for the ship. A second time, my moon base became bugged and completely unusable, and I received a refund for a bunch of materials I used in its creation. I encountered many other situations where I could have asked for a refund or compensation, but it diminishes gameplay too much where I opted not to.

starbase_4xvFXyaA1n.png

Compounding the issue, refunds seem to be sent through in-game mail, which allows the instant transfer of those resources anywhere you wish.

I know it seems harsh at first to consider implementing a "no-refunds" policy, but rather than giving compensation to players for bugs, the ideal thing would be to prioritize bugs which cause loss of resources/ships/etc. By acknowledging and tacking these issues as a priority, the economy of the game can be kept in order as no one will be favored for their loss just for speaking up. Players can be told about the bug and given updates regarding it being fixed. In the meantime, they should be told to endure the loss. Yes, as a developer you can give free resources to anyone, which is precisely why there should be strict policy of not doing so. It can harm the game in severe ways by causing players to lose faith in the dev team if the perception is that some players are favored over others. Outside of removing or dealing with cheaters, devs and admins of game servers should be hands-off regarding what happens in game.

Edit: 1/15/2024
devintervention.png

The best policy is to be hands-off the game world. Give players the tools to figure everything else out on their own, and don't intervene.

Problem: Devs issuing resources and/or credits to players who experience issues due to bugs.

Solution: Adopt a policy which asks players to report situations so bugs can be fixed, but informs them that no compensation will be provided, so that all players are on the same page regarding what to do when they encounter issues and that no player is being favored by the developers due to their frequent or direct communication.
 
Last edited:

XenoCow

Master endo
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
566
#2
Agreed. I suspect that this policy was a hold over from the closed alpha days, when player numbers were small and many of those involved were hand picked, mixed with some panic on launch at all the bugs. Panic is never a good policy maker.
 

Vexus

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
276
#3
I had some crazy life events immediately around EA launch where I couldn't play or pay attention to the game. I wish I could have conveyed how there's no reason to panic as the core of the game is so well done. Polish over "more features" will go a long way in the future.
 

LauriFB

Administrator
Moderator
Frozenbyte
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
212
#4
We have planned some features which allow us to not refund everything. But it will be a slow transition towards that.
 
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