Why would I make DLC free, what's the catch? Primarily it's because I want players to keep playing VizionEck after launch. Every year there are examples of big AAA games releasing with great multiplayer, only to have their communities shortly disappear. Matchmaking starts taking longer and longer until players cannot enjoy portions of the game. Since most indie games sell a fraction of what AAA games do, multiplayer tends to die even faster. That's not good!
There are two ways to stop this from happening with VizionEck. The first is to implement techniques that keep matchmaking times short and enjoyable even with few players. I'll share these in a later blog post. The second way is techniques that keep the player base large after release, both by giving reasons for players to keep playing and reasons for players to return to VizionEck. Free DLC is a pretty good way to help make this happen.
New content gives current players new things to do and past players new reasons to re-launch the game. It's rare but certainly not an Earth shattering concept. From a game dev perspective, the cool thing about VizionEck's free DLC is that I'm giving players the power to control when it's released. The system works like crowdfunding stretch goals using the in-game currency. Players can see the list of future DLC and know exactly what's needed to get each one released. Every Eckm (VizionEck money) earned by online players counts toward this goal automatically. It gives players an additional incentive to keep playing and also invite their friends to join them. I'll launch this feature shortly after launch once I have metrics for how fast the community earns Eckms. Ideally the stretch goals and free DLC will complement each other back to back: players feel a goal is within reach, so they push to achieve it => players ignore the next goal and just play/explore the newly released free DLC => players get their fill of this DLC, only to notice the next goal is within reach => players feel a goal is within reach, so they… etc.
Playing VizionEck is fun. Farming the same enemy over and over because it produces the most Eckms per minute is not fun. It also has zero benefit to the community. This is why practically every action in the game earns Eckms and practically every combination of actions earns Eckms, but there is a large bonus placed on doing something for the first time. IE kill your first online enemy and earn 10 Eckms, while every subsequent kill only earns 1 Eckm. Then kill your first online enemy using the Green weapon on Spiral map in Team Deathmatch and earn 10 Eckms, while every subsequent kill in this fashion only earns the standard 1 Eckm. The key to making this system work is that there is literally a list of thousands of different ways to earn Eckms. Casual players can ignore this list as it works in the background. They simply make way less money if they try farming. Other players can bring this list up in the menu and treat it like an expanded Trophy list. If some extremely dedicated player manages to do everything in the list, the rewards reset so they can keep on earning without farming.
Eckms automatically count towards the free DLC stretch goals, but they still stay with the player and can be spent as desired. They're the primary way of unlocking new features and progressing through VizionEck outside the campaign. Unlocks include Battle maps, game skins (changes to the game's visuals and audio), tools, Adventure modes, Battle modes, user flair, etc. There are no unlocks that affect gameplay balance. VizionEck is not "play to win," but "get skilled to win."
As always, feel free to ask any questions. I look forward to sharing another blog post with you next week.