Today we’ll be casting an analytical eye over the release of BBA, what players have been up to, and what the immediate plans are going forward.
It wouldn’t be a traditional post-release diary without looking at what the player-base at large have been getting up to since BBA was launched.
As you’d expect, Italy has been at the forefront of game sessions since BBA released. We were not expecting quite this level of interest however! 45% of 15+ hour accumulated game sessions were played on the Italian tree. By comparison, at the same period after launch, the Soviet Union accounted for 39% of similar length game sessions. Germany (purple) continues to be a popular choice.
Ethiopia has shot into the first place in terms of minor nations. As expected, Ethiopian game sessions tend to last a shorter time; a combination of losing, having reached player-set goals earlier, and a lot of restarts to maximize efficiency.
We’re seeing fewer players rolling back to previous versions in order to play TC mods than we usually expect during a post-release period.
Everyone’s favorite targets to nuke remain broadly unchanged from previous releases (major capitals). The one new target country in the list is… Mexico, for some reason. Turkey’s nuclear industry has seen an upswing, being responsible for 4% of nuclear weapons created and launched.
2% of games are using the newly released Japanese localization!
There’s been a noticeable increase in players using normal (64%) rather than easy (10%) or very easy (25% ) difficulty since BBA released. 0.74% of games are played on hard difficulty, and 1.10% on very hard. Prior to release, 28% of games used very easy, with 12% on easy.
BBA Launch and Reception
An enormous number of fans are playing the game and we’ve hit several new records compared to NSB and previous releases. This said, BBA has been an unusual release. In comparison to the points above, we’ve also seen some dissatisfaction and confusion over certain mechanics. Combined with the excellent and consistent player numbers, this contributes to some difficulty in interpreting the situation. This said, we clearly don’t intend to handwave away feedback simply because it does not appear wholly representative.g
Thus, it can be difficult to ‘read the room’ on the key pain points that an entire community defines - what may seem obvious to one player is not always the same for others, and the vocabulary users exercise to express themselves over an issue often differs. It is also worth noting that compared to previous releases, the number of reported issues is actually lower in BBA - we’re still working on how to interpret this dissonance.
Peace conferences have by far been the most frequent talking point amongst the community. After a deep dive, it is clear that there are three main narrative detractors:
- Genuine bugs (ie: behavior we consider not to be ‘working as designed’)
- Confusion over the rules in the new system
- Disagreement with the direction of the new implementation of peace conferences
In terms of confusion over the new system, this is something we have some longer-term desire to improve. A lot of changes were made to core systems in BBA, for which players had already established a sense of mastery and habit. This extends to both peace conferences and the air system. In retrospect, changing these habits could have been accompanied with clearer onboarding for the new expectations. That’s on me, and we’ll have this in mind for future developments.
One of the major misunderstandings we’re seeing in the wild is to do with ending bidding. Players who are used to the old behavior are ending their participation with bids selected, expecting to be granted the territory they’ve bidded upon. In reality, there is nothing stopping the AI or other players from contesting these bids, now without the risk of being re-contested. We’re considering mitigation for this behavior.
Disagreement with the direction of the new peace conference system is a more nuanced debate, but one which we feel is primarily influenced by the previous two points. On one hand, we have a sizable cadre of players who enjoy the more adversarial nature of the conferences, and on the other hand, there are a range of opinions on how effective this turned out to be.
There are several commonly occurring conference comments worth mentioning:
- Defeated major nations remaining ‘alive’ at the end of huge peace conferences is not intended to be a normal occurrence.
- ‘Bordergore’ from the AI is worse than intended in certain situations - primarily ahistorical PCs involving multiple different-ideology factions.
- ‘Bordergore’ created by players is a valid use of the peace conference system. While there are many legitimate concerns over how the AI is acting in some cases, we don’t consider it to be a failure of the system to allow the player to balkanize areas of the map if they so choose.
- Limited points is a solution we are confident in as a necessity to drive a more adversarial conference system. It does, however, require a strong understanding of how bid conflicts are expected to work, and we can do better at telegraphing this in a conference situation. Passing turns for infinite points will not be making a return.
- It is sometimes impossible to fully annex faraway war participants in smaller wars. This was somewhat intended, however the results of the balance around this are not something we consider satisfactory. There will be changes here.
- Subjects and minor nations causing ‘trouble’ have generated some friction. We’ve addressed this in the short term with some balance, however we may look into game rules and/or options to allow the player to customize the nature of peace conference resolutions. This is not as trivial as it might sound. While the intended narrative of conferences was always intended to be an adversarial conflict between ideological/major actors in an immediate post-war scenario, many players enjoy having more control over the endgame - as evidenced by the popularity of mods such as Player Led Peace Conferences. Supporting this behavior for mods is something we fully intend to do, and there are some steps we can take to make this easier.
On the subject of the air system and plane designer, we’ll be working on some improvements to the flavor elements that were somewhat lost during the transition to the new designer interface, as well as tackling bugs as we see them. There’s been a lot of guesswork from the community over what the ‘air combat formula’ is - much of which has resulted in erroneous conclusions. We’ll be making sure that the relevant parts of this are more clearly communicated; either in-game or through the wiki for those who want a deeper dive into the numbers.
We’ve now released two patches for BBA which address many of the most frequently occurring problems. We have more bugfix patches planned in the short term (likely next week for our next iteration), as well as a patch scheduled slightly more distantly with some more impactful changes.
In addition to the above, we will be continuing with the practice of monthly recurring patches throughout the BBA lifecycle - as indicated previously, we recognize the importance of ongoing maintenance for HoI.
All in all, many of you are continuing to find great enjoyment in BBA, and we fully intend to keep working on the key areas that some of you feel don’t meet your standards.