Was It Worth My Time? Why I Quit Playing Rabona

in LeoFinancelast month

During my blockchain gaming career I've been picking up and dropping many different games. Some I put away immediately after doing one of my Is It Worth Your Time?-style articles. Others I've kept playing and I report on the state of affairs in my weekly Play2Earn Report. There's one category I usually don't talk about a lot, though. Games that I picked up but dropped eventually. Those usually just fade from the Play2Earn Report and are never mentioned again.

9 days ago, I've asked for feedback in that weeks Play2Earn Report and one idea coming from @jelly13 was to change exactly this. Instead of only discussing new games, it would be cool to also look at games that I'm not playing any more and discuss why I've stopped playing them. So that's exactly what I intend to do on a regular basis from now on. The first game I want to talk about in that series is Rabona, a football manager sim on Hive. To make it perfectly clear from the very beginning: The intention of this article is not to badmouth the game. Quite the contrary actually, I still think that Rabona has a lot of potential and if certain things change, I might be back in eventually. What I want to do instead is talk about how I quit the game and take a look at the deciding factors for that decision.

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So how did I quit Rabona? I had been playing in league 2 for maybe 5-6 seasons and slowly built up my stadium, trained my team on a daily basis and usually placed somewhere in the middle of the table each season. I enjoyed the game a lot initially, checking in several times each day, picking up players without a contract, selling them for a gain. Over time, my interest decreased a bit and I checked in only once or twice a day. In the end, I was away for the weekend and forgot that the season would end during that time. In consequence, almost half my players had their contract expire and were gone for good.

Picking up enough players to be somewhat competitive again cost almost all my money but in the end I still got relegated to league 3. I struggled on for some more seasons but lost interest more and more until I just decided to let it be and quit playing the game altogether. When the ingame market for RBN was introduced I logged back in to the game to sell my RBN. While I was there, I took a look around the league and found that seemingly a lot of the players in my league 3 had done the same - quitting the game for good. Right now, this is what my league looks like:

Untitled.png

So if I read this correctly, there are only two active teams left in that league - HEROS FC and FC Hiddles. Everybody else seemingly quit playing. Now I can obviously only speculate what made the other players quit, but I have several reasons why I lost interest over time. Basically, these are the following:

  • Lack of match feedback
  • Pay2Win mechanics
  • League structure

There are some more issues I had. One being that players are just gone if you didn't remember their contract was ending, but ultimately, those were only minor gripes and wouldn't really have been an issue on its own.

Lack of match feedback

This was my biggest issue right from the start and it's probably the main reason I lost interest in Rabona. I loved the old school German style football manager games. They didn't really have a game engine to present the matches. Instead, they gave some form of life commentary highlighting the key events of a match. This would like that:

Hannes receives the ball in midfield
He's looking around for options
...
Nobody is free. Hannes is charging towards the corner post
...
Nobody can keep up with him
He's looking for a target in front of the goal
...
Fritz is signaling that he's free
...
The ball is coming perfectly to Fritz
...
He tries a header and propels it towards the goal
...
But Otto had seen it coming all along and grabs it without any issue

Those where fun to read, engaging and gave you a good idea of what was going on. They did not tell you about what was rolled on or what your player had to do to make it work. But they gave you an idea. If headers never worked, maybe it was time to train that a bit? Ultimately, these games never told you "that's what you have to do!" but they gave you enough information to try and deduct that yourself. Sadly, Rabona didn't have a feature like that. Instead you were simply given the result and some statistics that didn't really help much.

Untitled.png

With such little information given, it was hard to impossible to tell what actually decided the game and what I could have done better to work towards a different outcome. It seems that formation played a huge role in the results as well with certain formations being outright counters to different ones. Turns out if you used the auto line-up, you were always playing 4-3-3, so anybody doing the manual line-up had to simply counter 4-3-3 for easy wins. Again, there was no indication of that, so there was no way to deduct what was happening.

In my first seasons, I would sometimes win 5 matches in a row against the top clubs only to loose the next 5 games to seemingly inferior opponents and I just didn't know why. This both made victories less enjoyable and ultimately lead to me caring for the results less and less. A more active feedback system would fix that for me and if it ever gets implemented, I'll certainly give the game another go!

Pay2Win mechanics

I've did an article how Pay2Win might be blockchain gaming's downfall and a lot of it applies here as well. I don't mind a bit of Pay2Win in blockchain games, it's more or less part of the genre by now. The thing is, in Rabona they were stacked in a way that I really did not appreciate. You could buy RBN for Hive from the developer and I was okay with that part. Upgrading buildings still took time and if you bought players from the market, the money at least went to other players, so that part was okay. My issue was with training. Once every 23 hours, you could do one training session with your players for free. You could always reset that couldown if you spent some money, though. This reset was not limited, so you could do it as often as you wanted.

Training had diminishing returns and training one stat would reduce other stats. That's where the second mechanic came in. Freezing players. A frozen player was not affected by training, did not grow older, and you could not interact with them in any other way until you unfroze them. So the route to go was freeze your players you don't want to change, do your training and unfreeze them again. This allowed top (spending) players to create the perfect line-up with highly specialized players for each position. In fact that made these players so good, that "normal" players could never reach these kinds of stats during their whole career, also invalidating the whole player progression system.

Untitled.png

Rabona had that cool system where young players grow stronger every season and then slowly start to decline once they hit a certain age. This would have allowed for smaller clubs to scout young players, train them for a couple of seasons and then sell them to the big spenders. Because of the above, though, that did not really apply any more - you could just bypass the whole system by spending money on the game.

Now since I never competed for the top spots or in higher leagues any way, this didn't affect me too much, but it's nevertheless a system I really did not like as it invalidates a lot of the games mechanic and warps the economy too much in my opinion. I believe that Pay2Win mechanics should always be designed in a way that they do grant players willing to pay advantages, but there needs to be a limit to the effectiveness of what you can do and that was not the case here.

League Structure

This was mainly an issue once I had been relegated to league 3. The way the leagues are set up, you have 16 teams in each league. The league's champion moves up a league while the last 4 move down a league. So obviously, for each level of league, there are 4 leagues of the level below it. That leads to a situation where it's really easy to go down but pretty hard to go up again.

This really isn't too bad as long as you are content with the league you are playing in but if you ever move down a league, it becomes really annoying, simply for how hard it is to ever move back up again. This alone wouldn't have driven me away from playing the game probably, but together with the other reasons, it ultimately was the deciding factor that made me quit trying to get up again.

Obviously, there have to be less top leagues than there are lower leagues. Yet I feel like the 4:1 ratio was too harsh. What I would have preferred to see was a classical 2:1 ratio for the lower league - so for each league 2 you'd have two league 3 and for each league 1 you'd have two league 2. This would allow for a second team to move up with 4 teams going down still. The league of champions could still have the 4:1 ratio to make it really exclusive but everything below would be a bit more dynamic that way.

Conclusion

I still think Rabona is a pretty cool game and it could have a lot of potential. With the issues I've described above, though, it's not for me. All it would need to get my interested again is probably a better representation of the match results. Everything else I've mentioned would still annoy me, obviously, but I'd be more willing to bear with them, at least for a while. We'll see what the future holds for the game. It still has a lot of active players in the upper leagues, so there are certainly those that don't mind the aspects of the game that bothered me.

And that's all from me for today. Thank you all for reading and see you next time!

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Great article!
I've been playing Rabona for quite some seasons now. I managed to go up to 2nd league but then dropped to third again. The points you mention are quite true. I've also realised that the best way to keep your team competitive financially is to actually let players at the end of contract go and buy new cheap players on the sign up page. This doesn't make much sense and you can't really build a long term competitive team and earn money at the same time. Well maybe I do something wrong LOL :-)

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Who knows, we just might ;-)
I still think it's a cool game really, it just needs to fix these core issues.

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I love the article. I hope @rondras and @oliverschmid use the opportunity well (even though I personally do not agree with all the views).

The only aspect I want to comment is the Reset Training / Freeze Players Combo. The reason is - it does not work the way it is described. I think some players tried to go this route at the beginning but have since realised it is not that effective.

The Reset Training feature was actually used a lot in the early stages. This produced a number of players close to the training cap (training does indeed have diminishing returns). The players kept improving at the end of the season when there is a random change of skill (with young guys gaining on average and old guys losing on average).

Therefore:

  1. Noone in the top half of League of Champions fields players that are below training cap. You need players over the cap there.

  2. I do not think anyone even trains (outfield) skills anymore there - just formation experience - no amount of freezing/unfreezing helps when there is no single skill that could be trained to improve the player (he loses too much of other skills)

You can totally buy your way to League 1 through Reset Training (not saying it is the optimal way of spending) but you cannot buy success in the LoC that easily (not even the promotion from League 1, I think).

That being said, I hope to hear some feedback on the way buying extra stuff influences the player experience at lower levels (aside from the kind of trivial observation that getting a LoC spot without investing is impossible no matter how the in-game payments work).

!WINE !BEER

Thank you for your feedback! I can indeed only comment on what it looked like "from bellow" with top (spending) clubs just having insane stats across their whole team. Other than insane luck with scouting, there just was no way of acquiring players that anybody at the top would be willing to spend RBN on.

I've got some more comments over on noise.cash and Torum and there are users who love the game as it is right now (@behiver for example). Ultimately, I think it comes down to who you want to cater to, no single game is going to be for everybody :-)

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I am pretty sure noone wants the development to stop here. The devs are good at making sure the game evolves.
It is easy to push the game in a wrong direction and my opinion on the correct one could be as wrong as anyone else's. Same goes for the majority opinion. But the talk always puts some good ideas on the table.

Noone in the top half of League of Champions fields players that are below training cap. You need players over the cap there.

Excellent points in here @jelly13 . I used to be one that failed with extra training in the middle of a season. What i still do not get is what the training cap of certain players is - you mean try training (before submit) and when it is red or now green cap reached? But how can players be "over the cap"?

If the projected OS is never green for any skill you select to train, you are at cap (pretending OS is perfect to simplify).

Then you stop training and the skills go up between the seasons. You are over the cap.


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I have for some reason been ind of obsessed with rabona since it came out. I definitely agree with your points but somehow it still intrigues me. I would love if there were better data aggregation and visualization tools. there is a lot of randomness involved so i think that the stats they give you about game results would be much more useful if you could see them over periods of time and manipulate the data in other ways to extract more meaning.

I have 2 teams in league 1. one has been there forever and one I just got there in the last month. I find to get the best players you have to get your youth center up to a good level and just scout hundreds of players. don't sign anyone less than 60, preferably 65. I also favor players with high tp stats and tend to prefer players with high skills who may be lacking in endurance or speed since those decline most with age you have to keep training them anyway.

I spent 5 bucks on extra rbn in the beginning and havent spent any since except for maybe a dollars worth of freezing unfreezing to transfer players between my 2 teams (you can transfer frozen players). I think the key is getting your stadium leveled up as fast as possible so you can afford the youth center and tons of scouting and high salaries that high level players eventually get.

This strategy still hasn't gotten me to the loc but I think once I get my youth center leveled enough it will work.

I like the way you write your content a lot - constructive feedback is always good. For me Rabona is still the most enjoyable game on this blockchain as I simply love it and even am happy to pay more as I ever will get back even I am never going to win the LoC I fear.

Of course match feedback and a bit more statistics (on the player segment e.g. how many games a player played in season xyz, how many goals in xyz) but I know the team is working hard on more important improvements and with tournaments and bank coming I am more then happy to be here.

Re P2W I personally think the random / luck factor is pretty strong even you pay for extra things here. Compared to Splinterlands as an example Rabona still requires more as simply pay for success.

Rabona is a very new game and new things come every week, so we keep pace. I like to play rabona in short.

Thanks for another comprehensive review. This looks like another fun game I have to try out some time, but unfortunately I currently have no spare time for anything else! Maybe I need to start sleeping less with all the projects I get to read about from you and some other lions.

Have a good night!

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Interesting post. This was one game I didn't even try out since I'm not at all interested in football but I enjoyed reading about your experience.

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It's probably really hard to get into if you don't care for football in the first place ;-)

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Great post, same here although I understand the appeal of a "football manager" on blockchain, personally it's not my cup of tea..

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It could very well become my cup of tea again... if they changed some things ;-)

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I read somewhere about the token not being on hive.engine. That soured it for me, if the tokens are not tradeable then this joins the ranks of thousands of games out there.. many which are extremely polished but are not really crypto-based.

They have their own market inside the game now and you can withdraw/deposit Hive there.
Would have preferred it they just used HE like the rest, but I could have lived with that if it wasn't for the other issues.

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Interesting point! While there is the ability to trade the RBN token for HIVE in-game, that's different than having the RBN token available for 3rd party exchanges. At any time the game developer could remove this gateway which would eliminate any possibility of the token being used or traded outside of the game. I had never thought about this.

The same goes the other way around.

If @aggroed gets hacked again and turns HE off, we have a huge problem.

We won't rely on a single entity/database. We would definitely rely on a decentralized exchange. Something like this for example:

https://hive.blog/dhf/@borislavzlatanov/re-aggroed-qj8d7v#@blocktrades/qj8k4q

I agree about p2w mechanics. I will keep playing the game for a few months and see how I feel after that.

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Thank you for this mindful article, which touches some interesting points.
ich regard to the commentary - this is mainly indeed a time problem. The backend does already calculate about 200 actions per game - so I would "just" need to take the effort to get it out. I was not sure how important players would take this over other things. Maybe I have to make up my mind on this.

With regard to the pay2win characteristics: At the moment it is indeed possible to freeze players over the end of the season and thus avoid the skill changes. This is something that will be addressed later. Also, the whole payment system is likely to be adapted over time.

Lastly, with regard to the league system - it is very critical to switch from four leagues per level to two. I know its tough to get up again, but at least you do not have to appreciate 6 league to come to the top.

Best regards, Tim

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, it's really cool to see both Oli and you come here and reply to my post!

Keep in mind that I can only speak for myself on these points. For all we know, I might be the only one missing the commentary as bad as I do. Maybe do a poll in the community to see how important it is to the rest.

I really like the reverse NFT auction you are doing, this could be a cool way to generate additional income for the game without being a too obvious form of Pay2Win. Maybe you could do something similar for stadium NFTs, auctioning out historic/current stadiums that come with minor bonuses to the game?

Keep it up guys!

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nice idea, I like that one!

Oh, come on. Printing 100 OS/100 TP players off thin air is the second most obvious p2w mechanics I could think of. Number one is auctioning a win in the next match.

I mean the mechanics itself is great as it adresses two major issues (low player liquidity at the top and high RBN inflation) at once. But releasing 100 OS/100 TP players is a poor judgement when the (non-GK) superstars are at 85-90 OS with various TPs.

I am going to profit from it as it actually does not generate income for the game. That's an excuse. Longterm, the message is awful.

Oh, wasn't aware that they are that good.

My rationale was that is was only a single player that's also going to grow old eventually.

I see. They are going to be released one by one, the auction surely takes a while and they might be kept frozen anyway. They would have been 100 % frozen if their skills met the skills of the Season 1 LoC winning team (which is a much better lore btw).

...and they might be kept frozen anyway.

That is the thesis.
If that doesn't happen, we won't do any more auctions and it was a one-time fun thing.

Definitely agree with that. Plus...

All proceeds from the auctions will remain in the Bank of Rabona (BoR) account. The balance of the BoR will be in the control of BoR shareholders. It is also possible that part of the balance will be burned before we release the BoR module.

I quit for similar reasons. Was kicked to League 3 and never could go back, while my players got so expensive due to contract prolongation that I couldn´t afford buying new ones. I had a team with a high overall OS and still lost against much weaker teams. Didn´t make fun anymore.

Match commentary is not that hard to develop plus the frontend template is ready:

Bildschirmfoto 2021-01-17 um 17.14.46.png

This is more of a time-"problem". We have developed a lot in the last 9 months, but there is definitely still a lot to do.

The Reset Cooldown function is a shaky one, I agree. It's not a problem to remove it, but that would cost earnings. That would hurt because we just recently stopped selling RBN. In principle, though, that would be a viable way to go.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, really appreciate it!
Match commentary would be amazing for me and probably reason enough to jump back in.

I understand the issue with loosing earnings, you obviously need ways to monetize the game. Maybe it would be an option to reduce the amount of daily resets allowed or move some of the Paid4 options to upgrading the stadium?

Anyway, keep it up, I'll keep following the development!

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