First, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Garrett Fern, or bronstahd, and I’m a Game Designer at Daybreak. My primary responsibilities include combat mechanics, game economy and item spawning, and improvements/added features for base building. Today I’m here to talk about upcoming changes to the spawning of items in Survival mode in H1Z1 (note: these changes aren’t being made in Battle Royale).
Why are we changing things?
It’s currently possible to acquire and keep a large amount of resources. While some amount of resource accrual is good, and is in fact important to creating a sense of accomplishment in the game, too much accrual can become a problem. In particular, this can become problematic with survival items (items like food, water, guns, and ammo) because survival can become too easy if these items are readily available to acquire and hoard. Item scarcity helps create a sense of tension, and the need to scavenge should be a big part of survival. We believe many survival items are currently too common in H1Z1 and this change is intended to begin improving the position of those items within the game’s economy and, by extension, survival as a whole.
What is changing?
Our initial adjustment is focused on reducing the amount of guns and ammo that are spawned in the world. Because we understand that there’s no silver bullet for reigning in the game’s economy, this will be a measurable but conservative adjustment. We’re playing it safe, because we don’t want to break the game as we try to fix it, but we need to start making impactful changes. The initial adjustment will be to reduce the spawning of guns and ammo by 30%. This sounds like a big number but, as I will discuss below, we have robust data on the spawning of items which was used to arrive at this number.
Why guns and ammo?
The main reasons are that our ultimate goal is the improvement of H1Z1’s survival game mode and that spawning the right amount guns and ammo is absolutely critical to the enjoyableness of survival. It’s something we have to nail, so it became a logical starting point.
Another important reason we chose to start with guns and ammo is that we have great data on the spawning, looting, and use of guns and ammo. We’re able to look not just at individual items on individual servers for individual days, but aggregate data across multiple servers and multiple days. Being able to say, definitively, that over the last 5 days an average of 524 Hunting Rifles spawned, 280 of which were looted, per day on servers with an active population is incredibly empowering when making a change like this because it allows us to anticipate the outcome and reasonably predict its impact. We’re able to say, with relative surety, that what we’re planning won’t break the game because we have a pretty good idea of what will happen.
Having good data doesn’t just help us plan; it helps us analyze the outcome. Once this change goes live we’ll be able compare data from before and after the adjustment to see how far our adjustments impacted the game and determine whether we moved too little, too much, or just enough in the direction we were hoping to go. This analysis, along with player feedback, will inform our next steps, so it’s premature to talk about specifics right now, but it’s the biggest reason we’re taking the steps we are. In the past, we’ve seen the benefit of basing changes on factual data rather than instinct and intuition. It’s not just about this change, which is important; almost more important is how much we’ll learn about the game through this analytical, data-driven design philosophy and how that will allow us to make better, more reasoned choices as we continue improving survival in H1Z1.