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 Post subject: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:23 pm 
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Today marks the first day in 5 years that I have not launched Awesomenauts in over 2 weeks. I think that is a powerful statement on its own, and it describes a journey from being completely enamored by a video game to feeling betrayed by it. All those who said Awesomenauts is/was dying in the past were wrong. The game is still not dead but something smells rotten, and I've seen enough cues that tell me the ship is sinking and I might want to jump. The first one is on your screen right now. At the time of writing this, and for the first time ever, Ronimo is advertising another of their games on the Awesomenauts forum. They've also said they don't have any new content planned for Awesomenauts beyond the new character.

It seems even Ronimo has had enough of their own game. When a developer loses excitement for their own project, that is when it starts to die. Awesomenauts would have died a long time ago if it wasn't getting new updates regularly, and now it seems like that time has finally come. It feels like Ronimo is trying to sweep Awesomenauts under the rug after squeezing whatever bit of money they still can from it and moving on. Of course, this is only the beginning of that process, if you want to suffocate a game with a loyal fanbase, you have to do it slowly or there will be backlash. I swear it feels like just yesterday when I watched Tim say on stream that Awesomenauts is going to be around for a very long time, and I genuinely believed him because of the sincerity in his voice when he said it. It made me even more attached to this game than I already was. Now it feels like Ronimo has pulled out all the stops, the last of those being the free-to-play update which was the biggest thing to happen to Awesomenauts since the Starstorm map and it felt like the game would succeed for sure this time... Nope, that didn't happen. The playerbase fell back down again and this time, Ronimo had no cards left to play.

Since the Starstorm campaign rewards were fulfilled, I have voiced my concern about adding new characters to the game... since then, Ronimo has continued to release new characters with ceaseless persistence, even to this very day. This is ultimately why I think the game is now dying. If nothing else can be learned from this experience, let it be stated right now: When you add a new character to a game, you create short-term excitement at the cost of permanent disruption to the meta. Even after a new character is balanced, it leaves a permanent mark on every character that came before it. Characters are not only defined by their own abilities, but by every other ability in the game as well. By adding new characters, you are changing the characters that people have grown attached to without realizing it. There can even be an argument made that updating a game after someone paid money for it changes the game to such a degree that it's no longer the product they paid for and they should be entitled to a refund.

The way Ronimo has handled content for this game has been reckless and tragic imho, and for what? Short-term sales of new characters and skins? A better strategy would have been to build the fanbase through the polish of the game. There was already enough content in Awesomenauts after Starstorm for new players to enjoy, the reason the game was losing players is because of unpolished game systems and art, not lack of characters. Redesigning Lonestar and Clunk's sprites was pushing the game down that road. They didn't continue though because they didn't see immediate financial gain... but they should have held out and kept going. They needed to address the game's engine, which was causing numerous bugs that have been in the game since its conception. What Ronimo failed to realize is that people already loved what they had. Adding content to the game changes the game, so when Ronimo saw that people loved what was already there, it was extremely crucial that they proceeded with extreme caution in order to retain that magic......

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WHAT'S UP GUYS?!?! RONIMO HERE WITH A BRAND NEW SYSTEM THAT WE'RE SURE YOU'RE ALL GOING TO LOVE! BY THE WAY, WE REBALANCED EVERY CHARACTER TO MAKE SURE IT BECOMES AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO REVERT FROM THIS SYSTEM IN CASE IT TURNS OUT TO BE A MASSIVE FAILURE!!! BUT DON'T WORRY! WE HAVE A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS ONE!!!!

In all fairness though, Ronimo did try to combat this changing meta, but the changes they were making to characters were uninformed and took way too long to come out. While they did eventually balance characters, it was a painstaking process for the players, who sometimes did not wait around long enough to see the payoff. This problem would have been aided if Ronimo played Awesomenauts on a consistent basis, but they were notoriously absent online throughout the game's history. I have personally never queued with an Awesomenauts developer in the 5 years I've played. And that is saying something considering I played this game religiously and even more so because the community is so small. This lack of presence gives the impression that Ronimo doesn't actually enjoy their own game, and if they don't enjoy their game then why should we? This is around the time Awesomenauts started to face the consistent playerbase issues we're all used to by now. IIRC this is around the time pros like Edwiener and Toilethumor who pioneered this game started leaving, and the perpetual downward spiral began.

A better approach to the content problem, and one that I think is self-evident, is to change/add to the maps. No one has ever created a topic complaining about a change to one of the existing maps. No one has ever complained that there are too many maps... but I suspect the reason they didn't take this approach is because they couldn't immediately monetize it. This shortsightedness cannot be overstated. The reason game consoles are so cheap is because hardware companies make their losses back through the sale of games, but they need to establish that foundational playerbase first. In the same way, Ronimo needed to develop maps and polish the game and take losses for a little while, until they started making the losses back through the sale of skins/announcers/droppods/etc. Don't read this as me trying to tell Ronimo how to run their company, I just don't know how else to phrase my input without making it come across that way. The last thing I am is a businessman, but it's not hard to see that mistakes were made, and if I have to be the one who's hated for saying this then so be it.

The state of Awesomenauts now is pathetic. We've always had matchmaking issues, soloq has always been less desirable than sticking your hand in a meat grinder, we've always lacked variety in the playerbase, those same players have always exploited whatever strategy was the best at the moment for easy wins and the general toxicity still remains... but now we have numerous unbalanced characters to top it off thanks to Ronimo's proficiency after releasing characters consistently for the past 4 years. Queue times are worse than ever before, with the average being around 4 minutes. Mobility creep is off the charts with characters like max, rocket and dizzy making it impossible to consistently lock them down. The disparity in skill for soloq players like me is worse than it's ever been with matchmaking sometimes giving me players that have just started playing as teammates. This all culminates to create an experience that actively punishes me for playing by wasting my time. Many of these issues would not be a problem if the playerbase was larger, but I already talked about what could have been done about that.

People have stated that the reason they like Awesomenauts is because it's a simple take on the moba genre, but that's a misconception. Where this game lacks abilities/skills, it makes up for in movement options. Awesomenauts is part of a genre that was popularized by the Super Smash Bros. series that is now recognized as 'platform fighter'. The depth isn't missing, it was simply relocated to something more tactile, every character feels unique to control and it's not an easy feat to balance all of those movement options. There is such a void when it comes to good games in this genre, the only other polished ones I can think of are obviously SSB, Rivals of Aether, and Brawlhalla. Awesomenauts stood out from these imo. It offered something completely different, and had a crazy amount of charm. It could have been one of the greats and broke new grounds while making Ronimo insanely successful. The potential was/is there, maybe in the form of an Awesomenauts 2 with a new engine that allows for easier bug-fixing? I honestly have no idea where Awesomenauts goes from here and if/how I will continue to relate to it.

-> At it's heart, Awesomenauts is about making the stupidest and craziest plays for the most glory possible without having a backup plan and then improvising to create an escape. That's what I will always remember it for.

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:48 pm 
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Heard it all before

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:12 pm 
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Location: In my palace, mixing my martinis with paint thinner and a healthy squirt of epoxy adhesive.

Just when you thought he was gone,

Lord Protector Tiberius 2: Electric Boogaloo

Now in 4D!


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Don't miss out!

Only in cinemas June 29th

Rated M for blood.

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Give this guy a duck for making such a good job with this thread

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Give this guy a duck lololol

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:11 pm 
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For me, multiple things made the game turn somewhat sour. The first of which is that they tried to listen to the community. This gave rise to all those wannabe pros, mostly loud mouths, that keep talking and keep pushing away any less experienced player out. Because nobody has good feedback but the pros, isn't it right?

Well it turns out the game was advertised as a drop-in fast paced semi-casual moba. That's what the game was about back then. And while there were better players, the feedback of the casual ones was also important. And back then, all the characters were broken in some way or another, and it made the game fun. Crazy combos, team picking was very important so you'd use your own brokenness against theirs, and so on. And personnaly, I loved how Ronimo was looking at what was happening and balancing on their own. They cared for the casual players a lot too, not just the raw numbers and loud voices of the "pros".

Now unfortunately, everything is bland. The "balance" got so much in the way that nothing feels meaningful. Hell, buying half of the upgrades in the shop doesn't make much of a difference anymore. And I think that phenomena was accentuated even more with the xp system, when the upgrades became so mild on buyout because they scale with time instead.

And the community isn't quite as nice as it used to be. Those Betanauts became really... noisy. They thought they knew everything. They became * on this forum, they knew better than everyone. And to me, that's when it started to go down, community-wise. They forgot that they too were beginners at some point, that perceptions change with time.

You know, this isn't broken or unfair, just get better.

Get good.

And they wonder why the community isn't sticking anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 1:03 am 
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If you don't want to play the game then don't. :shrug:

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:33 am 
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If you want a more serious reply: this is one of the weakest rant threads I've ever read. Stop getting so mad that you're no longer playing a game as often, or at all. I don't know why people fail to grasp the concept that people lose interest in games over time and eventually stop playing them (with very, very rare outliers). You've played this game for 5 years and you probably bought it for under $10. Accept that you're not enjoying the game as much as you used to, and move onto greener pastures.

You outline so many dumb points about why you're fed up with the game, yet most of them are out of Ronimo's control, and others make no sense at all:
  • Ronimo is not at fault for matchmaking for the most part, this is down to the lower player count than other games
  • Ronimo is not at fault "community toxicity" even though the nauts community isn't even close to toxic in my eyes
  • Ronimo cannot, and should not, control player competitiveness outside of backend balance. In any game, if people want to win, yes they're going to utilise the best tools they have available to them. It's scrub mentality to complain about this, and again, has nothing to do with Ronimo.
  • Ronimo can't control players being bad. Raising the point that certain players are just not good at the game blows my mind.

The most ridiculous thing to me is that you suggest that Ronimo slowing down on adding content is a sign the game is dying, and then you do a 180 and say adding content just messes up the game. Excuse me? Although it has slowed down dramatically as of late, adding content continuously is what has kept nauts going for as long as it has - 6 years for an indie game is staggering enough. Adding content (characters) adds more variety to the game, it keeps it fresh and interesting, and I know I wouldn't be here today if I was still playing with a 10 character roster. Adding content is NEVER a reason why a game becomes less popular, and with every major or minor content update there has always been a steam charts spike in players for that month - the retention is the issue.

Am I white knighting Ronimo? Far from it. I think there's a lot of things they're not doing that they should be, but it's frustrating to see so many moot points being used as rant fuel. What they CAN do is:
  • Speed up content production for the game (we now only get skins as side releases for new nauts)
  • Put their faith more in the community to guide balance towards a better direction (via ingame tools)
  • Understand the wants and needs of the community and act on them (leaderboards that actually matter, non-stagnant brawls, awesomepoints actually being useful, etc.)
  • Be more vigilant and quicker on fixing core issues (bugs are taking WAY too long to fix)

I still play nauts because the things you praised it for still do exist. There's still nothing else like it, and hillarious once-in-a-lifetime things still do happen. My honest opinion is that you're pretty much on a rebound with the game because Ronimo isn't doing everything they can to support the game you've put so much time into, so you've resorted on nit-picking all the flaws you can think of into some grand article to hopefully get some reassurance that you're not alone in thinking that way. Like every other rant ever made on a forum. That was a long sentence.

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:14 am 
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Sam! wrote:
...

Now there's something I can respond to, you should have written that the first time around.

First up, I'm not mad. Mad people use ad hominem, everything I wrote was criticism or feedback. Just goes to show that when you spend so much time around the wrong crowd you start to adopt the wrong mindset. There is value in criticism, and particularly from a player like me who has been so heavily involved with their product for so many years. This piece was meant as a reflection at a pivotal time in this game's life, and it felt appropriate since, again, I have not been able to go 2 weeks without playing nauts in 5 ****ing years. If that doesn't sound like an addiction to you I don't know what does. Today is special because I finally did what I couldn't do in the past 5 years.

Second up, I spent $75 on the first kickstarter, $20 on a bionic Raelynn shirt, and I have one of the original signed posters which was about $80. When you say I probably bought it for under $10 that's being really dismissive of how much I invested in this game and wanted it to succeed.

Third up, I clearly stated that many of the problems I was complaining about wouldn't have been an issue if the playerbase was larger, and I even outlined how they could/should have went about retaining their players (new maps, art, bug fixes). I didn't say adding content "messes up the game" as you claim, I said explicitly multiple times that adding characters messes up the game. I didn't say they should never add a new character though, but they needed to slow down the releases and not have it be a factory line like they did. Characters are only a slice of the pie, and by only focusing on them they sacrificed long-term player retention for short-term gains. I already explained that in my op so I'm just repeating myself.

And last of all, I'm not trying to suggest you think this way, but skilled players often tend to forget why they started playing a game in the first place. Like Phoenixio pointed out, they become the "loud voices" of the community and push the focus toward things that only matter once you reach a certain level of mastery. The game does need to still be fun at the end of the day though.

If you're still having fun with it, great. I don't care. I'm concerned with helping give Ronimo better insight into their playerbase woes and help them understand how they can do better next time.


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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:11 am 
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I donated 75 and bought a bionic shirt too. :raehands:

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:44 am 
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Luckytime wrote:
And last of all, I'm not trying to suggest you think this way, but skilled players often tend to forget why they started playing a game in the first place. Like Phoenixio pointed out, they become the "loud voices" of the community and push the focus toward things that only matter once you reach a certain level of mastery. The game does need to still be fun at the end of the day though.


Depends on the player, there's quite a bunch of people who kept that in mind. Balancing based on lower skilled people Is till don't consider a good idea, because that's how you get cases like Ayla.

Instead you finetune the macro game to them.

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 Post subject: Re: From Glory to Gunk
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:29 pm 
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I agree with everything Sam said apart from speeding up content production.

Ronimo wants to focus on making better content, not more content.

Example: Snork Gunk. Eew.

Luckytime wrote:
Now there's something I can respond to, you should have written that the first time around.

Don't be a DeezNauts.

Luckytime wrote:
Second up, I spent $75 on the first kickstarter, $20 on a bionic Raelynn shirt, and I have one of the original signed posters which was about $80. When you say I probably bought it for under $10 that's being really dismissive of how much I invested in this game and wanted it to succeed.

Sam said you bought it (the game) for under $10, which is true. That's not being dismissive, nor is it in any way an indication of how much you do or don't want the game to succeed.

How are we supposed to know how much you donated on the Kickstarter—a donation, as well. It bears repeating. Same goes for merchandise.

Luckytime wrote:
I didn't say adding content "messes up the game" as you claim, I said explicitly multiple times that adding characters messes up the game.

Oh, please.

Don't do that.

Characters are content and you know it.

New maps can be just as disruptive to a meta as a new 'Naut, and for the same reasons.

Luckytime wrote:
I didn't say they should never add a new character though, but they needed to slow down the releases and not have it be a factory line like they did. Characters are only a slice of the pie, and by only focusing on them they sacrificed long-term player retention for short-term gains. I already explained that in my op so I'm just repeating myself.

I agree with this bit.

Luckytime wrote:
And last of all, I'm not trying to suggest you think this way, but skilled players often tend to forget why they started playing a game in the first place. Like Phoenixio pointed out, they become the "loud voices" of the community and push the focus toward things that only matter once you reach a certain level of mastery. The game does need to still be fun at the end of the day though.

Fun for whom, though? The larger group of volatile, new players (in a reality where we have new players) or the smaller group of more dedicated, experienced players?

No, "balance for both of them" isn't an answer when the experienced players hate the new players' strategies and vice versa.

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Give this guy a duck for making such a good job with this thread

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Give this guy a duck lololol

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Nobody can see it. Maybe instead of asking for ducks, you should put it in your signature.


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