Today we have a SPECIAL treat for you. Prior to patch 1.9, we had a chance to sit down with Ludia and interview them on a number of items that were important to the community, in a series that we hope we’ll be doing more often around here. While some of these concerns were actually addressed with patch 1.9, we got a ton of really cool insight behind the curtain at Ludia with this interview and we are just thrilled to share it with you all.
If you’re not a fan of spoilers, this may not be the article for you, as some of the answers to these questions provide some insight on where Ludia might be headed with Jurassic World Alive. But without further ado, let’s dive into the interview!
1. Sanctuary Functions
GAMEPRESS: So far, most of our information is limited on how Sanctuaries function. We can see that anyone putting any dinosaur in any Sanctuary likely returns a constant amount of DNA when that dinosaur is returned, but we can't crack the equation for how much DNA can be earned by playing, interacting, and feeding dinosaurs. Can you share how that works from Sanctuary level 1 to 20? What are the returns for each rarity? We're really trying to narrow in on if the returns are worthwhile for an Alliance to focus on one Sanctuary to level 20 or to spread it out on a few.
LUDIA: That’s a good question, and the answer is unfortunately quite complex, and I can’t go into too many specifics. Also, keep in mind that we did not intend to reveal all that complexity in the game in order to keep the game accessible and friendly for our casual audience and not overwhelm them. But seeing how passionate you are with these numbers, let me try to shine some light!
The formula for calculating the amount of DNA received when caring takes a lot of parameters into account. The main factor is obviously the rarity: a Common creature gives more DNA than a Rare or Epic. Then the game looks at the dinosaur’s preference. Each creature will give more or less DNA for different care actions (ex: the same dino will give 30 DNA for feeding but 25 for playing, just because that creature prefers food). We also consider if it’s the first time you performed a care action or if you did it repeatedly. I’m sure you noticed that if you feed a creature multiple times in a short period of time, the second and later times, you get less DNA. That’s because that creature is not so hungry anymore. You should wait a few hours before feeding it again or do another care action like playing. I’m looking forward to how you will “solve” and find the most optimal way of caring for creatures!
-Francis, Geo-loc game designer ✌
2. Sanctuary Placement
GAMEPRESS: There are a ton of sanctuaries spread out across the globe, but each individual player can only put dinos in a handful. Is there any plan to have some of these sanctuaries removed or to perhaps pre-filled with a few AI dinosaurs to encourage people to get interesting DNA from various sanctuaries? It would be great to see more sanctuaries filled than unfilled and right now it seems there are far more unfilled. And it would be cool to see some arena exclusive or even maybe "sanctuary exclusive" DNA out of the feature!
LUDIA: These are very cool ideas, and we also have lots of cool ideas on our side too. While we worked on Sanctuaries, let me tell you, we had lots of ideas! And we have big plans for them! I can’t make any promises, but we definitely want to improve Sanctuaries. I’m unable to confirm timing for any of these updates though. We usually prefer delivering geo-location features during spring and summer, because it’s more enjoyable to go outside during these seasons, but please don’t take that as a promise! Sanctuaries and geo-location are just one part of our game, and we have lots of ideas and plans for battle and everything else too! :)
3. Sanctuary DNA
GAMEPRESS: The free DNA from sanctuaries is much appreciated. What were your hopes that players would achieve out of the system? What do you see as the biggest advantage sanctuaries bring to the table?
LUDIA: Our intention with sanctuary was really to bring a co-op experience to the game. To encourage players and Alliances to join forces and tackle the difficult challenge of bringing a Sanctuary to a high level to gain bigger rewards. We have been a bit unhappy with the current balancing though. That’s why we are planning to ship improvement on that front in 1.9. With this change, you should see more value in leveling up a sanctuary. Sanctuaries are also a great tool to get specific DNA of those creatures in the game that are super hard to find. By placing them in a Sanctuary, you are guaranteed a certain amount every day.
Yes, it might seem like it’s not that much, but for those hard to find creatures, it’s certainly better than never seeing them in the wild! The trick is to be consistent in your Sanctuary visits every day to maximize the amount of DNA you can get. I remember seeing great guides online (good job, you all!) on how to do that, by providing the right type of care actions and working with your Alliance friends. Make sure you follow them and you’ll get your required DNA in no time!
4. Sanctuary Sharing
GAMEPRESS: There has been some concern about higher-level Sanctuaries being "taken over" by other Alliances. Our Alliance got a Sanctuary to level 12 and just before we renewed it (by leaving a slot open) another Alliance "stole" the share by taking it over themselves and filling the last spot. We eventually got it back after leveling the Sanctuary up, but was this also something considered in the system?
LUDIA: Yes, we knew this could happen. I personally think it’s interesting aspect of gameplay. That being said, we never explored Sanctuaries becoming some sort of attack and defense game, so if it becomes too much of a nuisance, we’ll look into it.
5. Arena Matchmaking
GAMEPRESS: The matchmaking in the arena right now has been a pain point for a lot of players. Often the diminishing returns for getting higher and higher trophies and playing players below that trophy count results in massive risk. Players in the top slots lose 50 trophies when a match doesn't go their way and gain maybe 1 or 2. What are the plans to continue to revise and narrow in on the matchmaking?
LUDIA: As with the Stat Boost discussion below, we have been hard at work analyzing, discussing and debating Matchmaking. We are still rolling out the discussed balancing changes slowly, one at a time, in order to gauge each change’s influence on the results of the matchmaking. This is a work in progress.
Unfortunately, because we might sometimes miss the mark, we can’t communicate the aforementioned iterative changes (because the player expectation would be that “ this is how the matchmaking works now ” while we could still be tweaking it every so often…) An issue where users of different arenas could not be matched together even if the matchmaking score difference would allow them to will be solved with 1.9. Regarding losing lots of points and gaining just a few: it is a wanted effect of the ELO system that a higher-ranked player loses more trophies than the amount they win (against a lower-ranked player). Thanks to this, as soon as you lose you are brought back with a larger pool of players, allowing you faster access to opponents. If you could keep climbing up at a given velocity, you could maintain a certain “trophy distance” from other players, lengthening the time it takes to match you against someone.
The reverse can be said when the underdog wins a match against all odds: they should be brought up faster than winning against a balanced (i.e. evenly-matched) opponent. We are going to slow down this effect by going from a factor of 5 (you needed to win 5 matches to compensate for 1 loss) to a factor of 2 (you need to win 2 matches to compensate for 1 loss) while your team and trophies are much higher than your opponent’s. So, we will still be moving players up or down faster while there is a notable difference with their opponent (which is the goal of an ELO system), but the velocity is 2.5× slower than before. We hope that this reduces the friction associated with the ELO system.
As for the weekend Tournaments, non-end-game players often have to face opponents that are too strong. We are looking into adding the Team Power calculation into the Tournament matchmaking so that the first few matches are actually based on team power (mainly), then slowly shifting the matchmaking to being medal based as the user’s medal count increases (so if a player’s team is inadequate, it is quite unlikely that they will progress too far). In between the two extremes, there will be an interpolation in order to provide a smooth progression experience.
-Olivier, Battle Designer
6. Return of the Tanks?
GAMEPRESS: The battle balancing changes to Dracoceratops and Dracorex Gen 2 were certainly appreciated, but the continued power of chompers like Thoralodosaur, Trykosaurus, and Tenontorex make tanks harder to justify (aside from Geminititan -- which is amazing). How do you feel the balance in the arena currently looks? Do you think tanks will make a comeback?
LUDIA: I sometimes miss the days when speedsters ruled the arena, before Swap In Abilities and Superiority Strike were created. They now have more of a “revenge killer” role than being a main part of the end-game’s rock-paper-scissors archetypes. A lot of the speedsters--like Utasinoraptor, Diloracheirus and Erlidominus--are still countered by armor and shields, which is a mechanical interaction that I appreciate. Not all speedsters have access to Distraction abilities, but those that do are great counters to the Chompers. Geminititan is gaining Immunity in 1.9. Alongside Ardentismaxima, we hope that the dawn of Immune Tanks ushers in a mini-renaissance in the Arena! Also, look forward to a Ceratopsian overhaul in 1.9!
7. Boost Changes
GAMEPRESS: Boosts have certainly made it difficult to feel just how balanced and clean the arena is at the moment (with perhaps the exception being the fastest dinosaur in the game - Dracoceratops). Where are boosts taking us in this game? Will there be any way to reclaim boosts from dinosaurs that were nerfed in the future? Will there be separate arenas with boosted and unboosted variants?
LUDIA: We spent multiple months analyzing, discussing and debating Stat Boosts since their inception. From an end-game point of view, we want them to be part of the game as a fun customization element rather than a chore to stay competitive. We are currently looking at revamping the mechanics for Stat Boosts before 2020. Here are the following changes we want to do to improve the Stat Boosts experience
Stat Boost Power Output
The Stat Boost “power table” will become linear: each Tier will give the same bonus as the previous Tier. For example, going from Tier 0 to Tier 1 nets the same amount of extra Health as going from Tier 5 to Tier 6.
Maximum Tier Amount per Stat increases to 20
The maximum amount of Tiers per Stat will increase to 20, with a maximum of +50% HP, +50% Damage and +40 Speed.
Fixed Stat Boost Cost
Along with that linear “output” change, we will also make each Stat Boost Tier cost a fixed value. The goal is that each end-game player should be able to boost one creature’s stat per week, whether that’s for the 10th Tier or for the first one. Players who want to spend extra time interacting with all facets of the game for extended periods of time will be able to apply more than one boost per week (before counting purchases).
Stat Boost Reset
Such a set of changes in Stat Boost Power will require us to implement yet another global Stat Boost reset. This reset will be done with the old costs ; so players who stockpiled boosts will end up with the same amount as players who spent their boosts (assuming they earned the same amount of boosts).
Stat Boost purchases are not going away but you will now have new means (in addition to the daily battle incubator) to collect them for free.
Stat Boost Limit per Creature Level
We also plan on having a Stat Boost limit (or ceiling) that encourages players to level up their creatures rather than unlocking them and then spending boosts on them instead of interacting with the core loop of the game (DNA and Coin). Having a level-based Stat Boost cap means that it would no longer be possible to have a Tier 10-10-10 Thoradolosaur while that creature is at level 21. The user must choose between a balanced approach (such as 7 Damage, 7 HP and 7 Speed) or to focus in one place at the cost of being less powerful in other aspects (such as 7 Damage, 5 Health, 9 Speed). We hope that on the way to the end-game, such a ceiling encourages player creativity and specific “Stat Boost Spending Builds” for each creature. Because the number of Tiers increased to 20, “maxing out” a creature’s Speed means that you are necessarily giving up some HP and/or Damage, even if your creature is level 30.
Player-Driven Stat Boost Rollback
Having a limit means that you can theoretically “lock yourself” in an inappropriate build . We want players to be able to dig themselves out of such a predicament with a penalty. Therefore, we will implement a system to “refund” your Stat Boosts, one Tier at a time.
We hope that these changes are perceived as the best version possible. While the initial shock of seeing a given Tier’s output become standardized will probably displease some players, everyone is affected in the same way. With linear balancing, a given creature’s initial (unmodified) Damage, HP and Speed still has importance--especially when focusing in a given Stat means that you are giving up power in the other Stats. Don’t hesitate to give us your opinion about these changes as we are always looking for feedback to improve!
8. Alliance Tools
GAMEPRESS: Alliance tools for Alliance Leaders has been another thing we've wanted to see for a long time. Are there plans to improve on Alliances and incorporate more tools for moderating how well Alliance members are doing?
LUDIA: We are very well aware that it’s difficult for Guild Leaders right now, as we are also playing the game and managing guilds. It’s something we definitely want to fix, but there are some technical requirements that we need to address first (backend server stuff). Once that is done, we would be able to provide better information, like when a player was last seen online. We are doing our best to put that in our priorities and solve technical challenges, but working on stability and bug fixes always comes first.
9. Alliance Competitions
GAMEPRESS: Alliance vs Alliance competitions are another thing incorporated into lots of different games. Are there any plans to include features like this in the future?
LUDIA: It’s something we have ideas for. Obviously, it’s a pretty big topic, and we want to make sure we would do it right.
11. VIP Benefits
GAMEPRESS: VIP has been another area that has been widely discussed. Especially since boosts were introduced and the need for DNA has been greatly reduced since boosting a dinosaur practically accounts for a level or more of improvement. What are your thoughts on improving the VIP system to make it more beneficial for supporters?
LUDIA: We are currently thinking about different ways to improve the VIP experience and we have plans for 2020.
-Benoit, lead game designer
10. Map Distribution
GAMEPRESS: We've really enjoyed daily dinosaurs and how they have freed up so many creatures from parks. But it does seem harder to farm local populations of dinosaurs due to the nearly 50% spawn rate on daily dinosaurs. And being that daily dinosaurs don't spawn in scents, it makes it further difficult to really farm dailies (rares and epics particularly). Do you plan to make scents for daily dinosaurs or to perhaps reduce the spawn percentage to better accommodate for hunting?
LUDIA: Yes, it was an unfortunate side-effect on the way it was implemented. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be too bad, that it would over time be felt as “the new normal” and offer a different kind of exploration. But I’ve experienced it myself over time and it’s true it makes certain creatures really hard to get, including creatures that were supposed to be easy to get. So for 1.9, we have a fix for that. The “daily creatures” should be less present by about ~40%. I’m looking forward to your feedback on that!
Future of JWA
12. What can we look forward to?
GAMEPRESS: What are you most excited about for the future of JWA? I realize you may not be able to say much, but a hint at anything to come would be excellent!
LUDIA: Hahahaha! Nice try! Well… my lips are sealed! Sorry! :X No, but seriously, we are thinking about many things to improve our current features and also create new experiences for both our geo-location players and our battle fans. I think now that we added Alliances in the game a year ago and we’ve seen that the reaction has been positive (even though it’s still a bit bare bones), we want to bring more co-op, competitive and social gameplay. It’s definitely in our discussions every time we talk about new features: we try to include co-op and/or social gameplay where it makes sense. We also make sure our more competitive players have ways to show off their skills and contributions. We can't elaborate on the timeline and specifics, but rest assured that the team loves the game and wants to continue improving it so it more fun and delightful!
So there you have it, folks! Some really cool clarifications on how the new boost system will function, and a lot of hints at what might be coming! We just want to thank Ludia for the time taken to answer these questions and we’ll start preparing another batch as well!
If you’ve got questions you want answered, be sure to join our discord and make them known!
Good Luck Explorers!