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Introduction: Joe “Muet” Grubb - Lead Designer

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  • Introduction: Joe “Muet” Grubb - Lead Designer

    Who am I? What is my background?
    I am Joe “Muet” Grubb. I recently joined Big Huge Games to take up the Lead Design role for DomiNations. Before joining BHG, I lead the design team at Dire Wolf Digital on the strategy card game Eternal. Prior to DWD, I worked on multiple ARPGs: Star Wars: Uprising, Spirit Lords, and Robot Rising. Going back to my earlier years in the industry, I was a Content Designer on two different MMORPGs, Jumpgate: Evolution and Stargate Worlds.

    I’ve been playing games for over 30 years, with the Intellivision being my first console when I was two years old. Some of my favorite video games of all time include: League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Warcraft II, Diablo II, Baldur’s Gate, Space Quest, Grand Theft Auto III, Mega Man X, Eternal, Heroes of Might and Magic II, Skyrim, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Mario 64, Super Dodge Ball, and Tecmo Super Bowl.

    What do I think about the current state of DomiNations?
    I highly value transparency with players and my interactions with the DomiNations community will be no different. As players of DomiNations, we’re all here in the forums because we want to improve the game we love. We go to sleep at night and think about army compositions. We plan weeks of building upgrades in advance.

    So, I’ll cut to it and talk about the multiple issues you’ve been highlighting:
    • Leaderboards - World War is how we compete. We agonize over base layouts, min/max our Museums, and donate troops. We prepare. Unfortunately, the current Leaderboard version doesn’t do our preparation justice. Inactive Alliances are parked in many of the slots and medal counts have bloated.
      • We’ll be rolling out Leaderboard updates in the near future that will aim to address these problems. The updates will come in stages with the last update acting as a pseudo season reset. We’ll be dropping inactive Alliances from the boards and addressing the medal bloat. I’ll post with more information as we get closer to the updates; the Leaderboards will be active again and will represent the top Alliances in DomiNations.
    • Matchmaking - Competitive integrity is an important component to any matchmaking system. A combination of exploits in the current system and sub-optimal matching logic has unfortunately resulted in poor match quality. It’s simply not fun to go to War and instantly know that you have no chance. As players, you’ve made that clear by opting out of participating in those mismatched Wars by not attacking.
      • When we address the Leaderboard issue, we’ll also tackle matchmaking. While matchmaking is always a trade off of match quality vs. wait time, we’ve identified solutions to many of the issues plaguing the current system. We’re actively working on this now and will be rolling out an entirely new matchmaking system alongside the last stage of the Leaderboard update. The system will also include the ability to identify Alliances with imbalanced compositions and understand that those are not fair matches.
    • The Rebalance - Let’s talk about it in more detail...
    What do I think about the rebalance?
    I joined Big Huge Games not long before we started rolling out the rebalance. I’ve been diligently tracking each stage, evaluating your feedback and reviewing data with our analytics team and combat designers. Based on that data and your feedback, we’re taking the following actions:
    • We’re cancelling Stage 5.
    • We’re going to schedule some events to reduce the cost of transitioning to the new army compositions and strategies.
    • We’re evaluating and testing changes to give a little power back to offense and make attacking more fun.
    One of my goals for the rebalance was to improve engagement in World War. While it may be an oversimplification, previous Wars were too often about “who didn’t 10-star”. Changing the definition of success to a range of stars should create a more interesting dynamic between Alliances. I still value this goal and think we’re within reaching distance of it. We’re currently exploring our options and we’ll be rolling out a plan as soon as possible.

    What is my role on DomiNations?
    Ultimately, I’m responsible for DomiNations being fun. I also manage the design department, coordinate with other leads and stakeholders, plan future releases, and spearhead some of our larger design efforts. My current priorities are mostly revolving around the matchmaking overhaul and investigating what DomiNations needs in 2019.

    What can you expect from me moving forward?
    Part of me being responsible for the fun in DomiNations is keeping a transparent dialogue with the community. Moving forward, you can occasionally expect to see me show up in threads here and on the subreddit. TinSoldier will still handle most of your questions but I’ll hop on and provide my thoughts when I can. Before you ask, I can’t give you specifics like the release date for Space Age (although the art team has been doing an awesome job with the building upgrades). The best questions for you to ask will be rooted in our design philosophy or where I see DomiNations heading. Things like “How much hidden information is acceptable when attacking a base?”, “Where will DomiNations be in two years?”, “How frequently should BHG update game balance?”, “How many Ages can DomiNations support?”.

    Now that you know a little about me, AMA.

  • #2
    Thanks for the introduction! It'll be interesting to see the community response to your post. I think the changes you describe will be welcome.

    Comment


    • Quagmire
      Quagmire commented
      Editing a comment
      Welcome! You should be grateful they didn't think to nickname you Ita or Norah. 😈

    • Dvicious
      Dvicious commented
      Editing a comment
      Not exactly sure what this response means Quagmire. Ive taken a 'wait and see' approach as these updates have been going on. Not many forum posts but ive been reading daily. I think most of the frequent commenters have summed up my feelings that the rebalence steps went too far and too fast for the average player to keep up and stay engaged in the game. I got lucky in that i was already atomic level german transitioning to a full HT army so I personally fared pretty well. I still care for the general health of the game though because i like playing and think they have a neat/unique format for a game. best, DV

  • #3
    Hi Joe. Welcome here. VERY glad to see some response and feedback from BHG at it shows that the game is still not dead yet.

    Keep us regularly updated with news & plans so we can also plan in advance our progress.

    Thanks for cancelling phase 5. The walls are already thick enough :-)

    Comment


    • Quagmire
      Quagmire commented
      Editing a comment
      What he said! 👆
      I guess you can't all the credit, but you can bask in all the glory. Big thanks. 😊

  • #4
    Actual input from a game developer who seems to know what he is talking about? And the rebalance is put under a pause and some changes are being considered? Thank you, this is what the community has wanted, this is a good start and actual communication. Very pleasant surprise.

    I have a couple of questions:

    - Are you considering a system to reveal the museum stat boosts of bases in wars? At least at the start of war day? I feel that the strategy aspect of war is neglected when a player is supposed to hit a base blindly, only really incentivized to boost his favourite troop composition and hope his opponent doesn't have strong artifacts against his army type. On the other hand, knowing what stats are in place would motivate the attacker to switch artifacts and troop compositions and his strategy to potentially make a better, more successful attack, thus improving the strategy aspect.

    - Is there a plan to differentiate between the strenghts of war bases and town bases in MP? Currently, MP bases yield very low rewards considering their drastically increased strength, which incentivises the grand majority of players to drop medals and attack abandoned and rushed bases for their resource and NTG needs. It is one thing to make war bases very tough to beat, but another thing to make town bases tough as well, as you need a lot of 5 star attacks to cover NTG, resource and diamond needs. And those are unfeasible in higher medals against even moderately upgraded bases with high losses in tactics, mercs, planes etc.
    So the suggestion is to either decrease the difficulty of beating MP bases, or drastically increase the rewards of those tougher bases so it would be worthwhile to attack them. And avoid medal dropping to attack low abandoned bases the only solution to this problem.

    - Will barracks troops get some of their strength back? Currently factory compositions like the HT or bazooka/APC heavy compositions are the only ones viable, while for example the old shooter/howitzer composition is almost dead as it had almost no stat increases, particularly DPS. Factory compositions would still be the superior option, but a barracks composition should still be somewhat viable while new players come in those ages to loot and upgrade their way to their factory troops. They should at least have a viable barracks composition until then.

    - Will there be a step up to fight the cheaters, particularly some of the more infamous alliances who get out scot free with repeated infractions over a long time? Players and teams can't take a game seriously and competitively with cheaters running amok.

    I might have a couple of more questions down the line. But thank you for responding to our plights and complaints here on the forum. Hope you have a productive time here with the community and benefit both BHG and the community at the same time.

    Comment


    • NateTheGreat
      NateTheGreat commented
      Editing a comment
      Well said KniferX. I might add that we should be able to see University research in addition to Museum stats. Also, we have no way of knowing in game what the stats are for any players defensive base troops.

      Most of the Rebalance defensive stat boosts could have just been added as a 6th-7th research category to the library and require lots of food+gold+oil to upgrade.

      Yes, barracks troops get shredded by the new redoubt towers. Secondly, barracks troops shooters/howitzers don't have a fighting chance against the Missle Silo without dropping 2-3 mercenaries and Generals. Howitzers and shooters need to have their dps greatly increased 3-4x but could keep their health current. They would be "squishy" but very lethal at range.

      Machine/gattling gun troops and saboteurs/commandos still are not effective. Machine gun needs 4 range to avoid anti-tank guns. Saboteurs need to be able to disarm 1-2 landmines like an EOD Army Technician. Both of these skills could be added to the library.

      Can't wait to see some of the changes to the game. Looking forward to the future of this game, as opposed to dreading new "Rebalance" efforts.

  • #5
    This is a pleasant surprise, someone who gets things done actually listening to the community? Did I wake up in the mirror universe?

    In a honesty, I appreciate the effort and I Can finally turn my world war participation back on, once I experiment with new troop compositions, if I ever find something useful to test out, thankfully I have a three day weekend where I might spend some of my free time just messing around to see what works.

    I can already tell you're going to be more liked around here than...well anyone from Nexon or BHG. I have to go back to work now, break's over, but I look forwards to seeing where you steer this ship.

    One request, please fix the expeditions with one of your updates, let us get some non-museum rewards again.
    I'm a member of the GTD Alliance. Come and join us, we're looking for members who are willing and able to fight in wars.

    Comment


    • #6
      Are there going to be any changes to the nations? Right now the best nation by far is the Germans. I've been a strong advocate for the French until they got nerfed. The British also got nerfed. The Germans got buffed by the rebalance. Please give me a reason not to jump on the bandwagon and change to the Germans too.

      The nations need to be balanced or it's going to get more difficult to get the proper ntgs.

      Comment


      • #7
        This is something strange... But being optimist I’ll take it as a small light of hope)

        Comment


        • Quagmire
          Quagmire commented
          Editing a comment
          When the room is dark, it only takes one bright spark to brighten it up. 🔥

      • #8
        Very warm welcome.
        Thanks for the introduction.
        Thanks for not saying MM works as designed and was designed as desired.
        You've set the right focus points for a start.
        ​​​​Stay transparent and keep us updated.
        So we can remove the sandbags which we had resisted to use for more than two years and finally introduced some weeks ago because we had lost all hope that ever anybody at nexon would do something about that ****ty MM.
        BTW. We nearly always get instantly matched, so idk what they told you about the tradeoff. I still think they just don't understand what the code does.
        How about a formal code review for the MM logic?
        ​​

        Ty, gl, hf and let's rock!
        Bad Rabbits II ~ We Hop, You Drop ~ Adults Playing DomiNations

        Comment


        • #9
          Thank you for reaching out and introducing yourself. Glad to hear the 5th stage rebalance has been shelved and of potential solutions to the leaderboard and matchmaking problems. I too would love to hear your plans for dealing w cheaters as has already been mentioned. Could you also comment on what balanced and unbalanced compositions would look like so that I, as an alliance leader, can be plan accordingly?

          Welcome to the community!
          Try our alliances:
          Tactical 31 - focused primarily on war, Tactical Raw - training alliance for T31, and Tactical Chill - still warring, but more laidback.

          Tactical 31 best fit would be later Enlightenment and above. Tactical Raw welcomes all ages who wish to learn and be active. Tactical Chill - gunpowder on up.

          Comment


          • #10
            Glad to have you aboard Joe, and hopefully in the nick of time to save this sinking ship.
            Whilst Leaderboard and Matchmaking changes are more than welcome urgent attention needs focusing on the ridding this game for once and for all of cheats. No more roll backs, instant Permanent Bans are the only thing which might restore some faith in this game. Garuda Sakti/Revolution 45/Top Killers need to be banished immediately. All the evidence has been provided ,and been ignored for long enough. Why should any team put $500 of troop purchases on the line for these scumbags to win by exploiting hacks. It's our money at stake...you have to give us security for our purchases.
            The 'rebalance' has achieved nothing but game abandonment by a large part of the long term player base. There are a ridiculous amount of accounts currently being sold off because of the complete lack of communication with the community. Introducing 250% hp increases without consulting the people who actually play the game was nuts. With stage 5 being sensibly cancelled I hope you will review openly with us Stages 1-4 with an aim to restore some fun back to the game before it's too late
            Last edited by Omegaman; 11-12-2018, 11:57 AM.

            Comment


            • #11
              Really great to hear from you Joe and I am so glad you are listening to the community! We are losing far too many players and that has to be tackled quickly, so I’m also really glad to read you and team are re-evaluating the rebalance programme which has been very divisive.

              I still think more can be done, particularly around offence and I would start with the Nations. They no longer ‘work’ as they were originally intended, particularly those which focus on Ranged Infantry. Before long, everyone will either be utilising the German or Roman Nations and surely, that’s only going to stifle innovation.

              Comment


              • #12
                Yay!!! U r the answer to my Dominations prayers!!!! Thank u! Thank u! Someone finally realized ya’ll have made it hard enough!! Now to give us some power back on offense!!! Thank u, thank u! I’m glad I stuck around.

                Comment


                • #13
                  Originally posted by KniferX View Post
                  - Are you considering a system to reveal the museum stat boosts of bases in wars? At least at the start of war day? I feel that the strategy aspect of war is neglected when a player is supposed to hit a base blindly, only really incentivized to boost his favourite troop composition and hope his opponent doesn't have strong artifacts against his army type. On the other hand, knowing what stats are in place would motivate the attacker to switch artifacts and troop compositions and his strategy to potentially make a better, more successful attack, thus improving the strategy aspect.
                  Actually, one of the driving factors for locking War Artifacts was to prevent some of the strategies that led to an unfun micromanagement in the Museum. If we let you swap at will, it’d create weird metas where the ideal way to fight War is to have two sets of Artifacts, one offensive and one defensive. It would create a “race” to get your attacks in as soon as the War started so you could then swap in your defensive Artifacts. While that certainly adds a layer of strategy, we thought it was too cumbersome, added a weird time-sensitive strategy to War, and would ultimately be less fun.
                  To more directly answer your question: Yes, we’re always thinking about the impact of hidden information. But, perfect information isn’t always the answer. On a related note, I’d be curious to hear the community’s thoughts on a direction we’ve been considering for the Stronghold: Would you find it useful to know how many Troop Tactics your target has (but not the exact Tactics)?

                  Originally posted by KniferX View Post
                  - Is there a plan to differentiate between the strenghts of war bases and town bases in MP? Currently, MP bases yield very low rewards considering their drastically increased strength, which incentivises the grand majority of players to drop medals and attack abandoned and rushed bases for their resource and NTG needs. It is one thing to make war bases very tough to beat, but another thing to make town bases tough as well, as you need a lot of 5 star attacks to cover NTG, resource and diamond needs. And those are unfeasible in higher medals against even moderately upgraded bases with high losses in tactics, mercs, planes etc.
                  So the suggestion is to either decrease the difficulty of beating MP bases, or drastically increase the rewards of those tougher bases so it would be worthwhile to attack them. And avoid medal dropping to attack low abandoned bases the only solution to this problem.
                  No. Combat in DomiNations already places a large burden of knowledge on players. New players learn relative power levels in MP and those learnings shouldn’t be flipped just because the mode changed to War. But, we are considering ways in which we can increase rewards in MP, including modifications to the DOMINATION! Bonus.

                  Originally posted by KniferX View Post
                  - Will barracks troops get some of their strength back? Currently factory compositions like the HT or bazooka/APC heavy compositions are the only ones viable, while for example the old shooter/howitzer composition is almost dead as it had almost no stat increases, particularly DPS. Factory compositions would still be the superior option, but a barracks composition should still be somewhat viable while new players come in those ages to loot and upgrade their way to their factory troops. They should at least have a viable barracks composition until then.
                  I won’t say it will never happen. But, we’re currently pretty happy with where Barracks troops ended up. Your point about a viable Barracks composition while transitioning is ideal and is what new players entering Enlightenment + should experience. Part of the pain of the rebalance is that this transition is also hitting higher Age players who never transitioned. “Pivot pain” is something we’ve talked about a lot internally. Pivoting as a CWA player to Factory compositions is painful and slow and it can feel like you’re stuck. As mentioned in my initial post, we’re exploring ways in which we can alleviate this pain. Keep an eye on upcoming Events.

                  Originally posted by KniferX View Post
                  - Will there be a step up to fight the cheaters, particularly some of the more infamous alliances who get out scot free with repeated infractions over a long time? Players and teams can't take a game seriously and competitively with cheaters running amok.
                  I’m not directly involved with our process for handling cheaters so I unfortunately don’t have much for you here. But, if you identify a cheater you should always report them with screenshot evidence if you can.

                  Comment


                  • SirViper
                    SirViper commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Your comment about being worried that attacking in MP shouldn’t be different than war, that already doesn’t apply due to the introduction of the museum.

                    In MP my base has a +55% increase to defender damage and a similar amount for defender hitpoints. And they’re only half leveled up. My defense in war vs MP are completely unrelated as a result.

                    I agree with Knifer that increasing the difficulty of getting 5 stars in war shouldn’t flow through MP like it has. I’m a lvl 282 CWA and I attack abandoned GBA bases because of this.

                  • LitanyOfFire
                    LitanyOfFire commented
                    Editing a comment
                    To respond to your question about the stronghold- it would be useful to know if they have troop tactics, and it would also be useful to know if there were donated defenders in the town center. Town center artillery is a really big deal to consider when attacking, and my strategy changes completely if I know it's not there. (Like I have seen a reply of another alliance member attacking before I do.)

                • #14
                  Originally posted by Dracula3811 View Post
                  Are there going to be any changes to the nations? Right now the best nation by far is the Germans. I've been a strong advocate for the French until they got nerfed. The British also got nerfed. The Germans got buffed by the rebalance. Please give me a reason not to jump on the bandwagon and change to the Germans too.

                  The nations need to be balanced or it's going to get more difficult to get the proper ntgs.
                  Nation imbalance has been a topic of discussion recently. Certainly on my list to explore but I wouldn’t expect immediate solutions here. The NTG variety issue is something we’re keeping an eye on in the meantime.

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    Ok this is a pretty cool development, thank you for taking the time to post this thread.

                    I’m a long time player who has lost the habit of logging in recently let alone participating in wars Anymore. I’m only one player, and maybe I’ve just gotten lazy and it’s time for me to move along; at any rate it’s been a bit of a bummer lately. To this end, your post, how you chose to communicate, and what you had to say was much appreciated.
                    Proud member of B O S S L E V E L Dominations Alliance. The house that Ambria built.

                    Comment

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