It’s been a week since the reset. After much reflection, here is everything that I feel about the reset, in rough decreasing order of importance:
Concern: Incentive to play does not necessarily increase
Point 1: First, the leaderboard system itself has some inherent flaws in design. Yes, the leaderboard does incentivize people to play so they may compete for some Lab Pass days. Additionally, three month resets theoretically bring people back to the game regularly with new opportunities for Lab Pass days. However, with the way the leaderboard is currently designed, I would argue that the leaderboard system is not going to effectively accomplish these goals. Top 1 and Top 5 are very exclusive groups to get into; those who are already in the Top 100 may be complacent to just stay there since Top 5 is so hard to get; only the top 10 or so players will really be trying to get onto the Top 5. Moreover, Top 100 is a rather easy group to get into; not that many people play the game as of right now. I understand Top 100 as a marketing strategy to introduce Lab Pass to more people in hopes they will by more in the future, but this could come at the cost of more people being content with that 1 week LP every 3 months, and a decreased motivation to play at this range of the leaderboard.
Turn Top 5 into Top 10, or add a Top 10 or Top 20 category for 2 week LP. This would incentivize more people that are around this range of the leaderboard.
Turn Top 100 into Top 50. This would force people at the lower end of the leaderboard to have to play more to stay in contention for 1 week LP.
Point 2: In introducing leaderboards, we miss out on a longtime goal of Stick Arena - to climb up the Ranks. Many people in the community played Stick Arena to achieve ranks and gain as many cumulative kills as possible on their account. Now, with the stats being reset every 3 months, people may be discouraged from playing knowing that all of their hard-earned kills from the previous 3 months is going to be wiped away. Sure, they may have obtained Lab Pass for their effort, but is 1 week of Lab Pass a trade-off they are willing to accept? Some maybe, some maybe not.
I understand that new players would not feel the affect of not being able to rank up higher as much, and that this new system may be an effort to cater to new people. However, unless a secondary effort to really advertise this game and put it on a bigger stage is made, the majority of Stick Arena players are still going to be the current players, many of whom are old and have been around 5-10+ years. If that’s the case, then it would seem that the leaderboard system does more to hurt motivation to play than to help it.
Suggestion: Many people have suggested this. Keep overall stats on the accounts and the 3 month seasonal leaderboard running at the same time.
Pro: Opportunity to vanquish the use of alting to get on the leaderboard
This is definitely a positive. Alting has really lost its meaning with this new system, and the leaderboard is finally mostly free of alting. I say mostly because alting is still going to be possible if done in moderation on an account. However, this is an overall benefit, and I’m glad people who actually play the game and kill other stickmen will be on the leaderboard.
Con: Kills should not be incentivized to this degree
In past Stick Arena, kills were just a measure of how much one has played the game. Yes, players wanted to stack up kills, but the reason was to become a higher rank and gain respect and fame throughout the community. Sure, we had alters and other pitters and urinalers who played in certain maps to get more kills, but that was kept at a healthy minimum since it wasn’t really that urgent to have the most kills, numbers wise.
With the new system, kills have been made into a race, as opposed to just a loose way to obtain high ranks for oneself. The danger of this is that it will focus the game towards only certain aspects of it, i.e. hammer maps. The name of the game will become “who knows the best technique to get kills at the fastest rate, without alting?” Not to say that hammer maps are bad, but the imbalance of games played that the new system introduces is what concerns me. Now, it feels as if those who play in other maps, like XGen HQ, Storage Yard, Sunnyvale Trailer Park, Globalmegacorp, Ltd., are being punished for not playing in smaller maps with a higher kill rate. I just don’t believe kills are the right thing to incentivize in Stick Arena, unless perhaps some bigger change/update is made to address this issue.
Con: There are several holes in officiating the leaderboard
The first hole is how alts are going to be handled. I myself have two accounts on the leaderboard right now: Mousy and Red. It’s not that I am trying to cheat the system or anything and gain an extra week of LP on another account; I legitimately just wanted to play on multiple accounts. I am fully aware that in doing so, I am taking away a spot that someone else could have in the Top 100. I am fairly certain there are players who have multiple accounts on the leaderboard.
My first instinct of a suggestion would be to only count the account with the highest amount of kills on the same IP address. I really hope there is some convenient way to do this.
Another hole is masked alting. It is possible to boost an account’s kills with some light alting. This way, the account may look to have legit stats but actually have some alting under its belt. Decreasing the cap number of kills to 40 or 30 may help curb this problem, but the problem still remains since alting is not only convenient for its high kill rate, but also ease of kills.
Basically, for the new leaderboard system to truly work and not be tampered with, the game is going to need constant admin and moderator oversight. If you just leave the leaderboard alone, something will go awry.
Reflection: I wish the Stick Arena community had more say
There is nothing us Stick Arena players can do about this, but I speak on our behalf when I say that we all feel stepped over. We never indicated that we wanted a stat reset; only the BBH community pushed for it.
Truth be told, I think the Stick Arena community as a whole would have voted against it. Our gameplay is not directly affected by the Top 100, like in BBH. Roughly speaking, we would have rather kept all of our ranks instead of getting our stats reset every 3 months for the sake of some LP. I can understand if XGen Studios feels that this is a move they need to make, and that the opinion of the Stick Arena community just stands in the way and does not matter that much since the new system is meant to appeal to newer players and set up the future. This is fine, but why couldn’t we at least get a warning that it was going to happen, and some explanation for the new system? I heard that not even the moderators got any warning. What is the point of this new Discourse then? I thought the point of this Discourse was to increase communication between developer and community. What’s happened has already happened, but I sincerely hope that the communication between developer and community can improve in the future.
Perhaps you developers feel that the Stick Arena community has caused you so much trouble, but we are still the ones that play your game. I personally do not condone any of the actions that caused you trouble over the past few years, but I can assure you that those actions do not represent the Stick Arena community as a whole. There are plenty of us who just love the game and truly want the best for it, and it would make a world of difference if we could be a little more appreciated for our love instead of just feeling abused after this stats reset with no warning.
Suggestion: Ranks need to be re-structured if this system is to be permanent
I would suggest stopping the Ranks at Rank 10, and then putting Rank 11 at 100,000 kills in case someone wants to push for that exclusive goal. Get rid of Ranks 12 through 15. For reference, NFCodfish, #1 on the Leaderboard right now, has 5,000 kills in about a week; he is on pace for 60,000 kills this season.
My pre-initial reaction was disappointment. My initial reaction (as posted in the other thread) was supportive. Now, my opinion on the stats reset and new system lies somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum. I feel that there are things that can be fixed and improved upon about the new system, but also things that may never be fixed. This update would have been great a few years ago, maybe when Dimensions came out. A big problem with the stats reset coming now is that there is not a huge community, both users and mods, to run Stick Arena. I am overall slightly pessimistic about the ability of this new system to “kickstart” Stick Arena. I guess only time can tell.