What a difference a few months makes. When I started this blog, there were a lot of items on my wishlist. Within hours, the first one became reality (the updates to Flight Deck operations), and now, several others have either made it into the game or been implemented in a way different from how I imagined it. With all of these changes, I have several items still on my wishlist, as well as some tweaks that I think would still improve gameplay. This is not speculation, as some of these things I am doubtful that Playdom would even do, though some are already on the radar in some form from sources such as the Developer's Q&A sessions.
Wishlist Items Granted
I want to recap the items I've had here previously that have been added to the game:
- Flight Deck Operations: Being able to sort heroes on the flight deck to more easily send heroes that need XP on flight missions, as well as adding resend functionality to automatically resend the heroes that have finished a flight deck operation back into the fray. This was pretty well speculated at the time, so my hopes were really following expectation more than anything else.
- Spec Ops Heroes: Once per year, making Spec Op heroes and limited edition alts that had already had an initial re-release available for CP recruitment for a limited time. It came as quite a surprise when Playdom announced that the first five Spec Op heroes were going to be made permanently available. I had fully expected these to never be alway available and that we would always have to wait on limited time re-releases to get them. However, we still hav eno permanent releases on the LE Alts.
- PvP Overhaul: Separate loadouts for offense and defense, as well as improving lockbox collecting in PvP, and balancing defensive fight volume. Pretty soon after this one, we got separate loadouts for PvP. Although PvP is still a beast with a fairly high disparity between those who get a low volume of defenses and those who get a high volume, at least we do have word that Playdom is working on more changes to PvP that will hopefully make it more equitable.
Here are changes that I think could currently make M:AA more enjoyable.
Limited Edition Alts
Since Spec Op heroes are now going to start becomeing recruitable on a permanent basis, we still need to see re-releases of the LE alts. I think that once per year, Playdom should have a time period of about a week when limited edition uniforms are available for purchase. We have already seen this a few times, like the Anniversary Sale, Memorial Day Sale, and Phoenix Fire Sale. With 4 sets of LE outfits now (Avengers Movie, Phoenix Five, Iron Man 3, and Mighty Thor), I think that maybe 4 sales per year with a different set on sale each time would be optimal. I think the timing of the Anniversary Sale (early March), Memorial Day Sale (late May) and Phoenix Fire Sale (late June) worked pretty well. Last year there was the Christmas Sale, so hopefully this year we'll see some limited edition alts go on sale along with weapons like Coulson's Revenge.
PvP Overhaul, Part Deux
We've already seen quite a bit of tweaking to PvP, but I still think there is room for improvement. Opponent matchmaking is probably one of the biggest parts of PvP that needs to be reworked. Some people in the final day of PvP may only see a dozen or so defensive fights, while others see three times that in the final hour alone. Here is how I would propose to fix matchmaking in PvP:
- The matching system should pair you up against a random opponent nearest to your level of play. Elo score and agent level should be taken into account. For instance, setting parameters so that the first choice opponent has to be within X agent levels of you in either direction and within Y Elo points. If there are no qualified opponents, then the algorithm double the value of Y. EXAMPLE: In this scenario X=5 and Y=20. Your agent level is 280, and your Elo score is 1100. You initiate an attack. The system would look for a random opponent between levels 275-285 with an Elo score between 1080-1120. If there is no eligible opponent, then the agent level range stays the same, and the Elo range expands to 1060-1140. If there is still no eligible opponent, the Elo range doubles again, and so on until an eligible opponent is found.
- The matching system should not force you into a ridiculously insurmountable offense/defense disadvantage. I've seen a couple of ideas thrown around here. The best idea would probably be a lock-in mechanism. This would prevent your team from being in mulitple defensive fights at the same time. This should at least prevent situations as bad as what Techparadox had in Season 11, initiating 7 attacks in the last hour, only to lose points because his offense to defense ratio was somewhere around 1:3.5. You could still have a defensive fight going on while you are in an offensive fight.
- Lockout an opponent after a fight against them. This would prevent issues like facing the same opponent over and over. Bascially, set it up to where after you face an opponent, you cannot be matched up against that same opponent for the next Z matching cycles. I used matching cycles here instead of fights for a couple of reasons. Lets say that you and one other player happen to be in a no man's land combination of agent level and Elo score. EXAMPLE: In this scenario, Z=4, both players are agent level 300 and Elo score 280. You just faced each other, and now you are initiating another fight. The matching engine will block out that opponent on the first pass. It doesn't find an eligible opponent, so the Elo score range broadens, and it tries again. After searching through 4 progressively increasing ranges, that last opponent that you faced becomes eligible again. It doesn't mean that they have to be the next opponent now, only that they are back in the group with the agents at level 300 with Elo scores between 0-600.
For the most part, the rest of PvP itself is fair to most players, rewarding those who spend the most time/money on the game with the best prizes. Even a big money spender isn't going to land much higher than Gold League if they don't put in the effort and apply what they learn while playing.
The changes I've listed above would also help greatly with the issue of last day volume. However, there is one approach Playdom has taken of late that helps alleviate that issue also, and that is the PvP tasks. These have worked really well in getting people to play PvP everyday who might not otherwise just so that they have a chance at the prizes. Whether it is lockboxes for a new hero or a nice limited edition weapon, at least now everyone is playing their 5 per day. Although we still have high volume on the last day of PvP, these tasks at least give us more uniform volume throughout the course of the tournament. I really think that Playdom could do more with PvP tasks though. We've seen several that only required you to participate in X# of fights or win Y# of fights. We have even seen some that although tied to the PvP season, actually require work within PvE. These breathe new life into PvP, but I think that these quests should have more tasks, and that more of the tasks should actually be completed in PvP.
Here is a topic that can be solved in several different ways. Personally, I do not think you should be able to train more than one hero at a time, as the one at a time training we have now I think works well. I do think there should be a training queue. That way, if you have several heroes that are XP maxed that you want to train, you can assign them in a queue to train. I do think that this should require an extra cost, as being able to queue training would probably prevent some people from having to login to the game as often as they currently do, especially with low level heroes. I think it should be a cost accessible to the free players, but something that will get wallet warriors to spend money as well. I think the cost should scale depending on how many heroes you add to the queue. Something like if you have a hero training, you can queue another one for 1 Gold, if 1 hero is in queue then 2 Gold to queue another, and so on. But, also make it where you still have to spend all of the other resources available to train the hero to put them in the queue. While in queue, the hero will still be available for fights, deploys, and flight deck missions, but once their spot in the queue comes up, they are pulled into training automatically.
Only the beginning...
These are just a few ideas I had for things Playdom could do to improve M:AA. I think this is a great game that could be made even better, and I will be adding more of my ideas to this list over time.