"We will never have NFT or pay-to-win donations in our games". EFT creator Nikita Buyanov on game balance and feedback from streamers
Battlestate Games CEO Nikita Buyanov had an interview with Igromania.ru. He explained how much influence streamers have over development, touched on hot topics of game balance, NFTs, and blockchain, and also revealed how much he plays Escape from Tarkov.
The topic of game balance always provokes discussions among the players. Some of them are confused about how BSG make things harder and harder, and how they approach certain nerfs. The explanation is simple — developers don't want players to view EFT as a classic PvP shooter with the main goal of killing as many people as possible. And they see players sticking to "metas" as limiting the gameplay.
We are trying to deal with metas a lot, with certain player behaviour patterns. We have a general idea of the game on release, how it's all going to work, how hardcore it will be, and how it will be balanced. But players often find loopholes to make their lives easier. They use metabuilds, glitches and issues in map design, physics issues, unfinished features, or simply start abusing bugs. We are trying to fight all that.
We want to ensure that players aren't trying to hunt for frags like in a classic shooter. And all the time such meta is uncovered within the game it needs to be balanced. We are against that, I don't like it when players follow a certain meta. The gameplay becomes severely limited.
When asked about the feedback from fans and streamers, Buyanov explained that developers get a lot of info from the community, but only around a third of it influences the development. The majority of feedback is coming from people through things like bug reports, and BSG also uses automated systems.
The feedback from the different channels is quite large. And over the past three years, we've been listening to it a lot, improving the game and the quality of the product as a whole. But apart from that, of course, everyone reports bugs, glitches... We have a huge test team, a closed ETC server where a lot of things are tested. We respond to all this.
From all the information that comes from the community, from feedback, opinions, videos, and streams, probably a third of it influences development.
We also have automated systems. Data collection, heatmaps, we are using all that, especially when we are working on AI. Scav behaviour, pathing, stuff like that. We have a lot of data on how players interact with scavs, how scavs move, and what they do. But most of the feedback isn't automated.
Battlestate Games founder explained that he doesn't play the game for pleasure yet because of lack of time, but he is planning to do it in the future.
I only play for testing at this point. I often test certain features, check how some systems work in practice. I don't play to progress a character, but I have a few accounts for different things.
One day there will be a moment when I will sit down, get a standard account, and will work on my character, progress, play, feel things out for myself. But at the moment Tarkov takes 90% of my life. I don't have the luxury of also playing it in my free time yet.
He also touched on a hot topic of NFT and blockchain in gaming. Buyanov sees it as a mostly hype-based thing. He said that it's interesting to observe, and it might progress into something bigger, but it doesn't "inspire confidence" in him. At this moment he is sure that his games will never work on a play-to-earn model, and won't have pay-to-win donation systems.
I don't really like NFT and blockchain. I know a lot about it, but I'm not very interested in it, and I don't want to introduce it into the game. We have bitcoin in the game, and it's tied to the real bitcoin price, but that's about it. I don't want the game to become a service for earning cryptocurrency or anything like that. I don't like it on a fundamental level. Selling pictures for tokens...
If the question is whether there will ever be anything like that in my projects, we will never have NFT or something like that. Neither will pay-to-win donations. [...] The interest is created by the hype around it. Why is the demand and price of these things increasing? A big company supports it, and it gives attention and respect. And the user himself can't even explain what NFT, bitcoins, and blockchain are. He is guided by the opinion of others. Basically, it's hype. At this point bitcoin and all this is something like an overhyped subculture.
BSG CEO also noted, that game had a positive impact on a lot of people, and he is happy that his product changes lives for the better. It helped some people to deal with their psychological and financial issues.
One ex-military man told me that because of EFT he didn't end his life. That the game helped him to deal with his issues, to cure his disorder. He was so grateful, mentioned that there are a lot of people like him... The game helps people to live.
There was a lot of feedback from streamers who got their lives together. They got money and became happy thanks to our game. A lot of people in many countries around the world got into the gun culture because of EFT. So the game affects people not just in terms of emotion and pleasure. Their lives have changed for the better. This is very cool.
At the end of the interview, Buyanov hinted at the "total graphic overhaul" of Escape from Tarkov and the possible adoption of ray-tracing. But his plans for this year are less ambitious — developers want to reduce CPU load and are going to specifically work on it. BSG hopes to reduce hardware requirements and make the game less demanding on the final release.
EFT is very CPU-heavy due to its engine characteristics. We are planning to spend this year reducing the CPU load, this will allow us to significantly increase performance. It will be better even without DLSS. But DLSS itself gives a significant boost in 4K, even tho not on every GPU. There is also ray-tracing from Nvidia, but we haven't considered it yet, since we are planning the total graphic overhaul of Tarkov. Maybe after that, we will add RTX tech.