Video Games

Here’s the Full Text of DICE’s Battlefront 2 AMA on Reddit

Battlefront 2 AMA

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, three brave men from developer DICE sat down for a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Yes, this was immediately following an almost unprecedented backlash against Star Wars Battlefront II’s heroes being locked behind ludicrous requirements, which piled on top of the already-in-discussion loot crate fiasco. So for these three guys to calmly discuss the matter on Reddit was certainly a bold move.

Those three men are John Wasilczyk (Executive Producer), Dennis Brännvall (Associate Design Director), and Paul Keslin (Producer).

Unfortunately, many of their responses were downvoted and became difficult to find, so we’ve collected the full text of the AMA and reposted it for clarity. We also thought it might come in handy should the original post get lost or sabotaged.

We decided to move things around a little bit too, just to make it easier to read, though we didn’t edit any text. The goal was simply to allow readers to get through the whole thing without having to jump around.

The conversation is quite long, so grab yourself a cup of coffee and get comfortable.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Stormtrooper on Endor

Question from Reddit user DreadPirate616:

EA and DICE,

First of all, we as a community would like to thank you for putting so much effort into Star Wars Battlefront II. We want you to know that we are so passionately critical of the game because we genuinely want it to be good, and are excited to play it. However, we don’t want the gameplay to be ruined by a slow progression system that gives advantages to players who buy micro-transactions. While Battlefront II isn’t technically pay-to-win, it IS pay-to-save-a-large-amount-of-time.

We don’t want you to fall to the darkside.

These are our biggest requests:

  1. Lootboxes should be removed. These ruin the feeling of accomplishment, are a form of gambling, and are obviously an incentive for players to buy credits using micro-transactions. Currently, Battlefront feels like a free mobile game, not a $60-$80 AAA title. There should be absolutely no micro-transactions that affect progression. While we recognize that you need money to continue creating free DLC, it should not come at the expense of fair gameplay. A compromise can be limiting lootboxes to cosmetic items only, so you can still make money.
  2. Players should receive enough credits to purchase Star Cards after every hour of playtime. That’s about 2-3 rounds of Galactic Assault. Either decrease the cost of lootboxes (or Star Cards if you remove lootboxes), or increase the credit reward at the end of matches. Additionally, Crafting parts need to be easier to acquire and more plentiful, so that we can choose which Star Cards that we want to upgrade, rather than having to submit to lootcrate RNG. We want to feel like we’re making progress in the game, and it currently takes way too long to unlock Star Cards and Upgrades.
  3. The credit reward at the end of matches should be proportional to the player’s score. The better the player does in the game, the greater the credit reward should be. The current system encourages players to draw out every match for as long as possible, and rewards AFK players. (Note: We want the credit reward to be a SIGNIFICANT PERCENTAGE of the score, similarly to Battlefront 2015. Rewarding the top players on the leaderboard with a small bonus amount is not a solution to the problem.)

So here’s our question, and we don’t want a vague answer (I think 700,000 downvotes made that clear): *What are your SPECIFIC responses to these three complaints, and what will you do about them? *

Thanks, r/starwarsbattlefront and the gaming community of Reddit.

Response from Dennis Brännvall: I’ll take question 1. I think crates can be a fun addition as long as you don’t feel forced to engage with them in order to progress. I feel that’s where the issue is with our game right now and that’s where we’ll look to solve as quickly as we can. We’re looking to add additional ways to progress your favorite character or class, while allowing crates to be a fun thing for those who want to engage with them.

2.) Yes, always. We are always going to be looking at the system from the back end, making changes depending on how we see people progressing. If it looks as though the crafting parts aren’t being given out quickly enough, we’ll look into changes to fix that. We know our players are looking for more direct paths in getting the thing they really want, so we’ll look to provide that as quickly as we can.

Response from John Wasilczyk: Regarding the second part of this question: We’re constantly looking at the rate that players are unlocking Crates and Star Cards and will continue adjusting values to make sure that players are able to progress towards their goals without it feeling like a grind. We’re also going to be adjusting end of match rewards as we revisit the system to reward people differently based on the way they play.

Response from Paul Keslin: I’ll tackle #3 – other replies incoming!

Right now Credits you earn in-match DO take into account your performance. It also takes into account the time you’ve spent in-match. Currently it’s skewed more towards your time spent in-game and we have some work to do to make it more clear that your performance does impact your Credit earn. This change was done prior to Launch – something that happened just before I was interviewed by Angry Joe and I missed the update since I was travelling – sorry for the confusion! Regardless, this is something that we’re looking to continue to improve on both in presentation and via more ways to reward you for different styles of play.

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Right now, 20% of your score is factored into your Credit reward. We agree, that’s likely not enough, and we’re looking into how we can increase that now.

Follow-up question from Reddit user KaptainKorea84: Any specific reason why you couldn’t stick with BF1’s perfectly reasonable 10% of points translated to credits? Approximately 0 people took issue with it.

Response from John Wasilczyk: The new system in Battlefront 2 has more depth and complexity than Battlefront 1 and required updates to how we think about all of this. We’ve made a lot of changes and credit rewards are part of that. We’re working on updates to the end of round rewards system and that will affect how a player’s match performance yields credits. Right now it’s not weighted enough to reward performance.

Battlefront 2 Luke Vs Vader

Question from Reddit user PachytheDino: I for one would pay 20-30$ in total for cosmetics loot boxes. Star Wars is filled with so many different species and different squads in each faction. What is the reasoning behind loot boxes affecting gameplay instead of just having cosmetic loot boxes? Is it too late to change the system? You could make so much money on this alone. http://clonewars.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Clone_Divisionshttp://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Essential_Guide_to_Alien_Species

Thanks for giving Reddit Gold. Though it’s unfair I earned mine while others can pay $3.99 to get it.

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Nothing is too late. As you’ve noticed, we weren’t able to get the customization system into the game in time for launch. I’m actually having artists and designers walk up to me today showing me cosmetic stuff they really want to get out there. I think we have probably the best looking Clone Troopers ever made and I know players really want to customize them (I know I do). I can’t really commit to a date just yet, but we’re working on stuff and I believe it will change the game tremendeously on all levels.

Question from Reddit user Frontaldevildog: Why are the customization options so lackluster? Star Wars has extremely vast lore with the potential for an insane amount of skins for most factions and heroes yet we have so little in the game as of now. Instead of items that directly impact gameplay perhaps more cosmetic items should be in crates. My second question is what will be done to improve the progression system? Progression and the unlocking of star cards should not be entirely RNG. Is it possible that we could see the return of Hutt contracts to remedy some of this game’s issues?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Customization is something we care about. Believe me, people are constantly sending ideas around the office from all corners of the Star Wars galaxy. Clone Wars, Rebels, comics, movies, novels – there are some really, really cool designs out there (especially from the Clone Wars era). It’s on our list of things we’re looking at daily, and always top of mind. Stay tuned…

Question from Reddit user Fluxriflex: If there happened to be an overhaul of the progression system, how difficult would it be to get Disney’s approval for cosmetic changes such as skins, voice lines, emotes, etc.? How much creative freedom do they give you? Unfortunately I won’t be buying the game in its current state, but if it was switched over to a purely cosmetic loot box system, I would gladly buy the game and throw down extra cash for cool-looking skins.

Response from Dennis Brännvall: We have tons of creative freedom. It’s probably safe to say that Star Wars games are more authentic and stick closer to the films, TV-shows, comic books and other medium than before, but you also have a lot more to draw from these days. For example, when we sit down and look at roadmaps for future content, we’re looking at years and years of development and we’d still not be close to emptying the “Star Wars Vault” of cool stuff to create.

Battlefront 2 Loot Crate

Question from Reddit user Cheesegrater74:

  1. Are you aware that it will take a gamer who plays 2 hours per day over 6 years in order to unlock all of the content? Don’t you think that is a bit unfair that a large portion of content will be unaccessible for those who have other responsibilities like work, school, in a game they paid for?
  2. Will you be looking to lower the number of microtransactions in the future?
  3. Do you have any comment on the cool down to earn credits? Will it be lowered or removed in the future? Any concern that this will make the grind even more challenging for players who don’t buy microtransactions?

Response from John Wasilczyk: We’ve seen the speculation about how long it takes players to earn things – but our averages based on the Play First trial are much faster than what’s out there. But as more players come in, that could change. We’re committed to making progression a fun experience for all of our players. Nothing should feel unattainable and if it does, we’ll do what it takes to make sure it’s both fun and achievable. As we update and expand Arcade mode, we’ll be working towards making sure that players can continue to progress without daily limits.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Question from Reddit user TheBlazingAnus: I want to preface this by saying that I loved the beta, particularly the multiplayer and visuals, however, there has been quite a negative reception of the progression system. The game sports a 1.1 average user review from over 1600 ratings on Meta Critic, with other major gaming outlets and publications citing the inclusion of the loot crate-based progression system as the major reason for their dissatisfaction of the game. I was hoping you would let us know what led you to make the decision with the current progression system, and, do you plan to implement any major changes to the progression system moving forward?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Yes. I don’t feel you can take yourself seriously as a developer on a live game if you’re not willing to completely challenge your own system and consider overhauls. I can’t really commit to the dates just yet, but we’re looking at solutions where players have a clearer, more direct path to getting the stuff you want.

Question from Reddit user HyzerRayAs a father with young kids, the two things that I lack are time and money. For all players like myself, with the vertical progression of the star card system how can we progress in game and stay on EVEN footing with those that have hours upon hours to grind daily, and those that are willing to throw down $$$ on loot crates for power increases via star cards and hero unlocks?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Mainly through matchmaking. We take into account not only your gameplay skills, but also inventory and time played, when we match players together in multiplayer. You should not ever be matchmade together with players who are much better than you are. Ultimately your effectiveness is going to come down to skill, not the Star Cards that you have. If it doesn’t feel that way, we’ll see it on our side, too. Our data will tell that story and we’ll make adjustments. We’re looking at results from millions of matches and will be continuously rebalancing items, unlocks, and matchmaking to create a fair, fun experience for all of our players. Beyond that, all Star Cards have maximum values regardless of how they are unlocked.

Follow-up question from Reddit user TeeJ_P: Have you seen some of the videos out with people with Rank 4 star cards already? They are smashing everyone else.

Response from John Wasilczyk: Our matchmaking system will rank players who do well against other players that do well. If they wreck players in one game, the next game they’ll be put against other players with similar skill. That’s the intent. We’re going to look at cases like these as they’re likely indicative of matchmaking errors. This is potentially occurring because the servers are still populating, since the game only just released.

We’re finishing rolling all the versions of the game out around the world this week which will affect server populations and matchmaking. Once that’s complete we’ll be working on updating the matchmaking logic to address situations like these.

Question from Reddit user hanburgundyEven among game journalists, the progression system sticks out as the clear sore point in what otherwise looks like a very well made game- to the point that for many it is souring the whole experience. Are you considering radical changes to this system? Is there anything you have decided you won’t change?

Response from John Wasilczyk: I think this concern has come through loud and clear. We’re going to continue adjusting the crate systems, content, and progression mechanics to hit a point that gives players a great, balanced experience at all skill levels. We’re working on expanding the number of ways that players can progress, putting more control in their hands and providing more options and choice in the way people play. There’s not much in the game that we wouldn’t revisit to improve the game for as many players as possible.

Question from Reddit user squishysquishhWhat do you plan to do to repair the backlash you’ve received and are you worried this will have serious impact between you and the consumers?

Response from Paul Keslin: Jumping into this AMA is just one of the ways we want to start to repair the bridge to our players. Lots of people told us that we shouldn’t do this this as it wasn’t going to go like we hope it would. That said, we are committed to continuing this dialogue even if we need to face some harsh feedback. We welcome the discussions and criticisms, we’re not just here for the praise (although it is nice to hear!). And we’ll continue to be here, and on our forums, talking to our community as we strive to work with you to make a Star Wars game you enjoy.

Question from Reddit user GamegeddonHow long will you take to implement some of the major progression changes (ex. credits awarded based on performance in game, not time spent in game)?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: It depends on the type of change, it’s difficult to give you specific dates but as we get closer, we will. The credit based on performance I mentioned in another question (we are changing the percentage of your score factored into your credit reward from 20% and increasing it) is a quicker change, while larger progression overhauls might take a little longer.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Theed

Question from Reddit user TheAlfiandOmega: Do you feel the 6.5/10 review that GameInformer released on your game was an adequate score based on the product you released? Do you think the score would’ve been higher if the game was not riddled with micro transactions and a progression system inherently tied to those micro transactions?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: I feel that the score was impacted by the feedback on our progression system and obviously would have loved if that wasn’t the case. I believe the gameplay, art, audio and depth warrants higher recognition, but I’m a developer, so I’m not necessarily the most unbiased source. Reviewers are obviously entitled to their own opinions, and we respect that completely.

Follow-up question from Reddit user xMycelium: “Obviously” you’d love if your game wasn’t getting garbage reviews. What are you doing to change it? From this AMA, I’m gonna guess nothing.

Response from Paul Keslin: We care more about how you all enjoy the game and how long you all play the game vs. what its metacritic score is.

As for direct actions, we’ll continue to adapt as fast as possible to things we know aren’t working well. For example we know that Progression needs reworking and that’s on our roadmap as something we need to change – some things can be done quicker than others.

In the meantime we’ll improve and expand on what works and rework or eliminate what doesn’t. Your feedback directly impacts what features fall in which bucket.

Question from Reddit user HockeyBrawler09: Who is doing research on the development of Star Wars IPs? Star Wars IPs from the late 90s into the 00’s are some of the most beloved video games in recent memory, and many are still being played today by strong communities of gamers. Does EA just not realize if they gave in to what consumers wanted by removing loot boxes and gross microtransactions they’d be setting themselves up for longterm profits and possibly a positive relationship with their base which could flood into other genres/markets? Or is short term profit the only goal?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Our partnership with Lucasfilm gives us access to a huge amount of Star Wars information, but beyond that, we’re always looking back at the heritage of Star Wars games. From “Watch those wrist rockets” from the old Battlefront to the inclusion of the Heavy Repeater from Jedi Knight that Iden picks up, we treat the previous games as a part of this same legacy. Bringing more of their universe to life with Battlefront gameplay is one of the things we’re most excited about in operating a Live game. Regarding microtransactions, we want players to enjoy their progression through the game and want gameplay to be fair along the way. Microtransactions are there for player choice, but won’t be a requirement to play or succeed at the game. And like everything else, we’ll continue tweaking and tuning until we achieve these goals.

Question from Reddit user The_Year_of_GladThank you for agreeing to answer questions.

1) Do you believe that DICE’s brand has been damaged by its association with EA, as a result of this controversy?

2) When you yourselves play games, do you prefer to play ones with microtransactions and associated mechanisms like loot crates, or without them?

3) What, in your view, is the most effective method by which gamers could convince a large company to stop including microtransactions and associated mechanisms like loot crates in the games that it sells?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: Wow, loaded question… but sure, let’s dive in.

  1. First off, I joined DICE because I love the games we make and the culture we have. We always listen to our community and we care about our games once they go live. We are also part of EA and none of the games we’ve made (including this one) would have been possible without them. We’re proud to be part of this team. Sometimes we make mistakes. When we do, we fix them. I think our brand remains very strong.
  2. For me, what matters to me is if the gameplay is fun. I play games with loot boxes and games without. I think when these features are at their best, they can be fun and exciting, while when they’re not it’s pretty obvious. I take pride in that we as developers at DICE will rethink any mechanic or feature if our players do not enjoy them and work hard to quickly get a better version of it out to you.
  3. The best way to tell a company what you want on any topic is doing exactly what you are doing – give us the feedback. Talk with us, constructively. When we can change things, we will. When we can’t, we can’t, and as much as possible we’ll explain why. At the end of the day, if you don’t have fun in our game or you don’t like our game, we lose. Plain and simple. We want to make games that people want to play and are happy with. That’s our jobs, and we’re going to keep doing it.

Question from Reddit user Spacy_Wildguns: What is the reason you can’t do a real squad system like in Battlefield 2 that was amazing and very popular ? is the reason to keep it as casual as possible and not promote teamwork or skill ?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: I don’t believe in just taking a feature from one game and tossing into this one. We’ve tried it several times and it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have the same levels as Battlefield, our environments and what you expect from the planets we build are different, nor do we have the same game modes for the same reason. That being said, we’re currently prototyping an update to our spawn waves that allow parties to stay together and spawn on each other. No timeline yet, but we’ll let you know.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Mos Eisley

Question from Reddit user AsexualAmeba: My job keeps me incredibly busy, and, often times, I just want to come home and relax against AI. I’ve noticed that the amount of credits is capped per day in arcade mode to 500. With crate’s current cost, I would have to max the system out for eight days in a row to afford just one crate. Do you have any plans to change up the arcade values so more casual players like me could afford more than 2 or 3 loot crates a month?

Update: Also, would any of the future DLC or maps be aimed at the offline arcade modes, or will you be focusing on multiplayer updates?

Response from Paul Keslin: As we want to let players earn Credits offline via a more relaxed game mode, we needed to also find a way to make sure it wouldn’t be exploited in a way that would impact Multiplayer. Because of that we made the decision to limit the number of Credits earned to stop potential abuse. We will be looking at data continually and make adjustments to make things as balanced as possible.

As for more Arcade, just like every mode in our game, we want to look for ways to expand it going forward. Unfortunately at this point we don’t have anything to share right now, but know that we care about Offline modes.

Follow-up question from Reddit user TychoXYou can buy crates and impact multiplayer immediately. How is limiting arcade a reasonable approach?

Response from Paul Keslin: With Arcade we set out to let players earn Credits offline via a more relaxed game mode, but as a result we needed to make sure it wouldn’t be exploited in a way that would impact Multiplayer.

So to stop this potential for abuse, we decided to place a limit on Credits earned offline. We’ll look to find ways to expand on the options to earn Credits offline as we want to make the experience rewarding, but we don’t have any new news right now.

Question from Reddit user Smthrsd1974: Where is the new/improved Skirmish that was promoted on the site back in April?

Response from Paul Keslin: During development Arcade was originally called “Skirmish” but given the new experience we offered, we launched under the name “Arcade” which we felt better describes the play available as well as the opportunities we have for future development. Many of the elements of Skirmish (offline play, couch co-op, AI, etc.) formed the foundation for this mode.

With Arcade we wanted to offer everyone new ways to play, which allows for a focus to be put on the unique experiences playing alone (or or with a friend) can give. Alongside adding Campaign, this led us to develop this mode – a safe place to play with the Battlefront toys. The “Custom Games” mode being the most extreme of this, which gives you the tools to make your own experience.

Question from Reddit user sunny_xo: Arcade mode is VERY basic atm. Will there be an update with a sort of skirmish mode with Space Battles + Galactic assault?

Response from Paul Keslin: We see Arcade as a great way to get familiar with the game as well as put you alone, or you and a friend, into an experience tailored for that number of players.

That said, we are very aware that some of you would love to have what is essentially a Multiplayer mode available offline. And we think that makes sense! It’s an opportunity for learning the ins and outs of the Multiplayer and allows for a great, safe experience. Nothing we can commit to today, but we’ll keep this one on our list.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Vardos

Question from Reddit user homer101ster: Galactic conquest was one of the best features from the original battlefront games. Will you guys ever bring it back?

Response from Dennis Brännvall: I played a ton of Galactic Conquest in the old games and I would love to bring it back. If we ever did it, it would have to be large enough and deep enough to belong in a Star Wars game in 2017. But yeah, I’d love to take a stab at delivering that at some point. We’ll see!

Question from Reddit user RektSquared: Hiya fellas. Are you considering private servers for Battlefront 2? This really is such an impressive feature for a game to have. Allows competitive play and is certain to prolong the longevity of gameplay, as players can stay on maps and gamemodes they like.

Response from Paul Keslin: This is something we hear a lot and will continue to consider. We know there are folks out there that want to either run their own competitive events or find a safe space to take screenshots / create crazy videos. Those are things we’re excited to see you all do so it will continue to be on our radar.

Question from Reddit user alvabqz: Hey guys, thanks for the ama. I’m sure there will be lots of people asking questions regarding hero prices, lootboxes and credit gain, so I will try to focus on topics less people are talking about.

You talked multiple times about the fact that Battlefront II will be a continous effort with years of additional development and I think frequent communication is very important in order to ensure success. This leads me to my first question.

1) Will you increase communication with the community and regularly discuss and answer questions on reddit?

I realize that it can be dangerous for developers to openly talk about controversial topics, however we see more and more companies adapting a more “open” style. When I played League of Legends years ago, I was impressed by how active employees of Riot Games were talking about the game in their subreddit. Epic Games and Psyonix are really active in the Fortnite and Rocket League subreddits, too. Developers are stepping in daily to discuss things. While I appreciate you hosting this ama, I want to ensure that you keep talking to us on a regular basis. I realize that this sub is in a kinda toxic state right now with the huge influx of people who primarily visit this sub because of the recent media attention but I’m sure it will get better. Even though there are lots of people sharing their rather unconstructive opinions, I hope you realize that most people still greatly appreciate your development efforts and that everyone just wants to have a great game. Sometimes all it takes is a simple “feedback noted”, most of us really appreciate communication. Incidentally I wanted to give a huge shoutout to /u/petervesti and /u/ShadowXJ who frequently step in to discuss the game with us and update us on all kinds of topics!

Next, I want to talk about something regarding progression few people seem to talk about: The star card upgrading requirements. Personally I really dislike the fact that players are forced to get other star cards before being able to upgrade to higher rarities.

2) Are there any changes planned regarding the class star card level requirement when upgrading cards to higher rarities? Maybe you could elaborate on the design goals.

The credit costs for trooper crates seem unreasonably high, it seems to be more economically viable to buy other crates and simply use the contained crafting parts to buy / upgrade the cards you want. However, instead of simply upgrading three star cards that fit my playstyle, I have to get other cards first in order to increase my card level. I understand the non class / card based global level requirement which prevents new players who spend money on crates from directly upgrading everything but I don’t understand why my card level needs to be 15 before I’m able to upgrade a card I want to use from uncommon to rare. Trooper classes share most of the boost cards, so if I want to use the card which makes you earn more battlepoints with more than one class it feels really bad to grind out card level 15 multiple times with different classes just to upgrade the same card to rare again. So many resources wasted. The intention seems to be to at least partially slow down the player from progressing too fast. This design seems counterproductive, on the one side people who spend money on lootcrates are restricted from progressing too fast by the global level requirement, on the other site people who spend money will have a higher card level which leads to them being able to upgrade cards faster. You might argue that getting the player to try other cards might be one of the design goals but I’m sure there would be more elegant solutions for that.

Thanks again for the ama and thanks again for developing the game. Altough there are some problems, the core gameplay is fun. I hope you continue to improve and adress the problems people are having with the game.

Response from Paul Keslin:

1) Absolutely! We’re focusing more and more on finding ways to communicate with our community. This AMA is just the beginning. We’re exploring things like what it would take to do a frequent video series as well as having more a more frequent presense on Reddit and our official forums.

2) We’ve already started to tweak our existing systems based on the data we’ve seen from our Play First Trial players as well as your feedback. The goal with star card class level requirements, initially, was to make you go wide in the type of cards you get before you go deep in specializing which ones you want to upgrade. That said, we’re hearing loud and clear that you’d prefer a system where playing a class or a character specificially will upgrade its level instead, so we’re looking to make that change as soon as possible.

Final word from Dennis Brännvall: Big thank you to everyone who stopped by! I hope you feel the questions we answered provided clarity and hope going forward. We really appreciate the mods doing their best on a very short notice.

The goal with this AMA from our perspective is to give you a look at where we are in digesting the feedback we’ve gotten over the past week.

We were incredibly saddened by the negative response from you, the community on Reddit about the game. In-fact, we hated it, we truly did, because we want to make a game that you love. We’ve made a really cool, fun and beautiful game but it was overshadowed by issues with the progression system. We will fix this.

Stay tuned for more specifics and details once they get set, we’ll be sharing as much as we can, in our blog, in our forums and here. We’ll be around Reddit so please be sure to tag us in posts you’d like to get dev eyes on.

Thank you again and may the Force be with you.

Dennis

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.