The Carrot on the Stick

For the most part, I don’t want to tell you about things I want to do. I prefer to tell you about things I’ve already done. It’s okay, safe even, to get excited about things that I have proven able to implement. It’s when one starts talking about what they want to do before they’re anywhere near having done it that we get into hype territory.

Nonetheless a recent conversation I had with my friend Logan – who you might recall from this post – brought up some interesting points, not least of all that my changelogs are not the most compelling or decipherable content in the world. I could probably do to talk a little more about what I’m doing.

So I’m going to tell you about what I don’t plan to do.

Because I am a single person, it is imperative that I simplify PAYDAY 2’s design. The smaller I can make the basic idea of the game, the more attainable the minimum viable product becomes. More than that, though, a lot of clowntown’s design consists of needlessly complicated systems for dick waving. Infamy, level caps on item purchases, money, even leveling itself are all completely superfluous to the point of clowns. Furthermore, all these interlocking git gud systems make the game less accessible to new players, hindering retention and late adoption.

In my opinion, the emphasis on these penis measuring sticks over other kinds of content is a symptom of Overkill’s failure to understand what it is that people play clowns for. Suffice to say, those who truly desire to show how proshit they are to others typically prefer to play PvP games where they can demonstrate it firsthand.

For this reason, I don’t plan to have very many of these systems in my game. None at all, if I can get away with it.

This was an eyebrow-raising declaration to Logan, who told me that I need a leveling system at least to keep players engaged. But that is fucking incorrect, and he agreed when I pointed out that he and I played Left 4 Dead every weekend for four years straight and it doesn’t have leveling.

It’s hard to see it nowadays since PAYDAY is buried under all its ill-guided feature creep, but clowns doesn’t merely pay homage to zambies every few years. PAYDAY owes everything it is to Left 4 Dead. If you strip away all the extra stuff – Infamy, skills, money, modifiable weapons, mask customization – you’re left with zambies in a cops-and-robbers skin.

And that’s a beautiful concept! I love L4D but frankly, we need more co-op experiences that aren’t about zombie outbreaks. Have you browsed Steam’s co-op tag lately? I did when I decided I’d had enough of Overkill’s shit. The pickin’s are fkn slim.

So what does a co-op heisting experience without dick-measuring metrics look like in a practical sense? Well, basically, you have access to everything right from the outset. There are no level restrictions on weapons, even the high-power shit, is available from the first time you load the game. You don’t actually have to spend money on them, so you’re not limited by that. There’s no skill tree tier system where you have to buy skills you don’t want to reach skills you do. Because everything will be available, you’ll be able to experiment with your skill/weapon loadout from your very first heist.

Perhaps you are wondering just what it is I plan on using as the carrot to keep you playing, if it’s not locked out content.

Nothing.

I don’t plan to string you along and force you to play until you get the weapons you want to use. I don’t want to and I don’t think I need to.

You know what Left 4 Dead did to keep me playing for four years? It had really fun, engaging campaigns that begged to be re-explored over and over. And when I finally got tired of the stock ones, there was a whole library of awesome user created campaigns available to me. (I can’t tell you yet if such a thing is possible for The Take! I can say that Unreal is currently working on making it easier for developers to make their games modifiable by end users and Steam’s Workshop system already exists.)

To be sure, PAYDAY has good maps too. That’s why my friends and I played it for as long as we did. But I have vast improvements in mind, even beyond Left 4 Dead’s maps.

And that’s how I plan to keep you playing. Experiences worth repeating.

So yeah, real revolutionary ideas here.

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