Agency - that's what tiggers like best


#1

I wanted to aggregate peoples’ complaints into one, meaningful post. And add some cheese to that whine. In my opinion, what really seems to be the underlying problem, reccuring in many conversations is the loss of agency.

What is agency?

A) The player has control over their own character’s decisions
B) Those decisions have consequences within the game world
C) The player has enough information to anticipate what those consequences might be before making them

borrowed from here.

Why it matters?

Because when agency is gone, we become spectators in a not that interesting realm of circles moving on a square board. There is only a handful major types of annoying situations in the game:

  1. We don’t get any lucky drops/devours, while AI gets plenty of them.
  2. We buy a lot of keys and we do not get any good troops, while other folks get Xantheos.
  3. We get disconnected while playing that important GW fight.
  4. We put up a good team, make a good opening move or two, and then get massacred without us having any chance to react
  5. We cast some Troll, Anariel or other random gem spawning with a board full of gems in our color and we don’t get extra turn. Again.

And whilst there are many reasons, to why certain things happen, I think it is well worth it going through the list and spending a liitle time at each of the points.

  1. We don’t get any lucky drops/devours, while AI gets plenty of them

This is a classic, well known all around here, confirmation bias joining ranks with RNG. Not only though. This is also a place we notice (even if wrongly!) that agency point C) is breached - we expect one thing, and some other thing happens. Actually, since the game is fair in that point, we get opposit streaks too, which comforts our inner Grouchy Smurf.

  1. We buy a lot of keys and we do not get any good troops, while other folks get Xantheos from LT.

Actually, this is the very same thing as above. And as in facebook - nobody posts their photos of a mediocre holiday, where 3/4 days were rainy. And yet again we do expect that it won’t be us having THAT bad luck. One amazing mechanic for fine-tuning that is the pity timer. It does not remove luck factor, it just makes that nobody is the very unlucky one.
On the side note, most of the keys we buy for free, but that shouldn’t affect our perception, right?

  1. We get disconnected while playing that important GW fight

This one is purely technical one, right? No, it’s not when you cannot replay the lost fight. Then it is game making us lose, when we were clearly bound to win (we always are, aren’t we?). And that is another breach of the C) part.

  1. We put up a good team, make a good opening move or two, and then get massacred without us having any chance to react.

Whoa, this one is massive. And really complex. It’s about the meta. And our ability to know which teams are actually good. And when it is just bad luck (see point 1.). But at it’s core that’s the major problem people have been facing lately.

We are sure that the team is good, becasue it has won so many times. Or it’s pre-nerf Justice League. Or a copy-paste from forums. And we are level 9001, and have spent half our lives playing GoW.
We know that our opening moves were good, bacause we had a 4-gem match with surge which almost filled our gorgotha/troll/nobend and then we made a 3 match to make it ready for a cast in second turn. And we cast that spell in second turn filling all our troops. We are ready to smash!
Then AI casts goblins/casts gem spawners/casts imps/ has lucky drops and finishes turn with a kraken devour.
And after that 30 second 4x speed up movie we realize that ragnagord will have a real tough time winning on its own.
That is totally not what we expected after two moves. And certainly not what should happen more often then once in a week*.

This game is a casaul Puzzle RPG game. And we play it because of that, we like it because of that and we are accustomed to that! That’s why this is the most serious breach of point C) of all these - we don’t get what game promised us to deliver, and that’s why we feel frustrated.

*A week is at least 100 fights: 30 GW fights, 21 Dungeon fights, 30 PvP fights (for guild trophies) and some 30 Explore fights to finally get those needed traitstones.

  1. We cast some Troll, Anariel or other random gem spawning with a board full of gems in our color and we don’t get extra turn. Again.

This has point has been excluded from 1. just for one reason. Combo breaker. It’s cool that it’s there for AI. And it’s way not cool that it’s there for players. Secretly. It’s not straight away in tutorial or anywhere in the game itself that every subsequent turn is less likely to yield another one. So we correctly, this time, notce, that we have less luck then we would expect.

So what?

As one can see, it is as easy as ABC to make everything great again. And we already have A) and B) done. I hope that constructively naming the problem would be a small help in either community talking about current situation, or even could help developers (who are pretty smart though, as prooved by a bunch of amazing games they made). The very least I practiced my english typing skills, and had some fun time activity while watching colored bubbles moving themselves on the screen.