DISCLAIMER: All of the content below is heavily conceptual and may never be in the game. All images and text are stand-in. Please read this before taking the images out of context!
Wait a minute, this game has moderation?
If you’ve ever contacted a moderator, congratulations. You’re part of a very small minority of players who are actually even aware that there are moderators. An interesting statistic is that the average foxhole player only plays the game for about 20 hours, and a vast majority of these players are even only vaguely aware of the vote-kick system, let alone the moderator system. If you’re one of those players with 100s, or 1000s of hours, you aren’t just in the extreme minority, you’re an outlier.
So if you’re one of those people who has never even filed a mod mail, I’m sorry, this article is going to make very little sense to you. This article is dedicated to that core fan base, for whom moderation exists.
The Truck Thief Conundrum (And why it’s so hard to write rules)
Two players, John and Amy are in an altercation. John has just Team-killed Amy, and Amy reports that she would like John banned. It seems pretty clear from our logs that this did indeed happen, and team-killing is against the rules. But before we ban him, our moderators should ask John what happened.
John tells us that Amy is a thief. She was trying to steal his truck, packed full of supplies that John had prepared for the frontline. He says he Team-killed her to get her away from his truck after she tried to take it, which is also breaking a rule of no team stealing. Both of them are adamant that the other should be banned, and will accept no less.
This is a really simple example, and the answer as to what should be done might be very obvious to a lot of you, but the answer isn’t important. If the answer was always obvious, we wouldn’t need moderators. Every issue has grey area. It is exceedingly rare that there isn’t more than a hundred exceptions to every written rule.
Why can’t you talk about moderator actions taken?
The moderators are there to help you solve problems for yourself, and they are encouraged to be as creative as they can in accomplishing that. They might try chat-restricting a player or asking players to separate. They may ban a player, or they might ask you to issue a vote-kick instead. Through your testimony, and through the private logs we keep of player activity, every issue is handled on a case-by-case basis.
A small group of disgruntled players had recently demanded on discord and Reddit that we permanently ban a player for griefing his team. What they don’t know, is that this player was an alternate account, being used by someone whom many of them know personally. He was a veteran of the game for over a year, and a dear friend to many of us, and if this group of players had known the true identity of this player and heard his rationale for the behavior, they would have advocated leniency. This player was banned but not permanently.
Meanwhile, in another case, we have an issue with a player skirting rules, but not explicitly breaking them the way the last player did. We investigated the reports, checked the logs, listened to testimony, and determined the intent of this player to be directly against the spirit of his team. His ban was issued for more than a month.
Some players will agree with our decisions, others won’t, and both parties will be both right and wrong in their assessment. Transparency for moderation means giving you all the contextual information, which is not always wise. It means endless arguments among players, about players, and nobody wins.
Why don't you issue permanent bans?
As I said before, it is exceedingly rare that a player will act purely out of malice and without cause, but it does happen. A player might plant landmines on roads to kill friendly vehicles, or drop supplies on the ground, or flip some backline fort for the enemy team just to see if they can.
Isn’t it partly our fault, as developers, that these things could happen in the first place? Think about every multiplayer game you’ve played before Foxhole. Why is there no personal banking like in World of Warcraft? Some games like Eve Online even endorse spying. Players entering Foxhole do so with a pre-existing understanding that if something in the game can be done, that it is our intent as developers to allow it.
Nobody is 100% at fault for their actions when we, the developers, must take part of the blame. Things that players can do to grief their team today may be fixed tomorrow, and with that fix, in place, it is conceivable that a banned player may correctly function within that new system as you might expect them to in other games, were Foxhole just like any other title.
That being said, we have issued permanent bans before.
Why won't you tell us if you've reversed the damage done by griefers?
When a griefer discards team supplies, we don’t always replace them. Every time we interfere with the game it has negative consequences, so we do it as seldom as we can. If we replaced every item lost to a griefer it becomes a dependence. If you know about the Prime Directive from Star Trek, or you’ve watched the ‘Goodfellas’ episode of Futurama, you will know exactly what I mean. Our interference erodes self-regulation; that any action you take to prevent griefers is wasted effort because the moderators will just snap their fingers.
Players need to expect that nothing will be done. We need you (the players) to find the exploits, take precautions against the griefers, get angry and talk about the problems. Fix them when you can. Report to them when you can’t. And we will try quietly to do on our end exactly what we must, and no more.
What is the future of Foxhole Moderation?
We don’t ever see moderation going away completely from Foxhole but we also don’t see it as a perfect solution. The perfect solution is to give the players their own methods to self-regulate. The stockpile logs are the best example of this kind of implementation. When we implemented this change the number of reports regarding thieves and griefers dropped very steeply.
We want to keep pushing in this direction. One of the features we’re hoping to bring to Update 32 is the ability for players to inspect specific players’ activity logs, not just the stockpiles. We are a little concerned about this because we also don’t want to start witch hunts, but the success of the stockpile logs has emboldened us to push a little harder.
And of course, if you have other ideas that you as players could use to help investigate griefers for yourself without moderator intervention, please let me know, and we will try to find the time.
Combat Update - So. Much. Testing.
Starting Simple - Setting Goals We always start by setting some simple goals and objectives. It is easy for us, in our excitement, to scope-creep new features because they seem cool, so setting goals is critical. It keeps us on-task and focused. It also works for when things aren’t working. If a feature is really cool and fun but doesn’t meet the goals, it’s important that we reassess.
These were the goals we set for the new Combat Update
Make cover more valuable
Add suppression mechanics to increase the depth of combat gameplay
Make Grenade throwing more realistic mechanically
A naive solution We thought we were being very clever when we decided that we could meet both of our goals for cover and suppression with one factor: adjusting player accuracy. The original design called for player accuracy to drop steeply when enemies were shooting at you (suppression)... unless you were in cover. It satisfied both goals--adding depth to combat and making cover valuable.
It was terrible. We tried to change the way people played Foxhole by forcing them to take cover, otherwise their shots came out like a toddler holding a fire hose. But we learned something critical from this test; that we didn’t want any new feature to take away something the players already had (their accuracy). We wanted to add to it.
Disclaimer: This gif shows how bad accuracy was before we fixed it. It is not an accurate representation of the accuracy now presented in Update 31.
Making Cover Valuable We returned to the written goals and decided to separate their solutions again, so we started with cover. Our next test we took suppression out completely, and just buffed the hell out of cover by giving someone in full-cover near-perfect accuracy, and that was it.
People loved it, but they still weren’t using it. They were still running and gunning, ducking into alleys, and only stopping by sandbags momentarily to snap off a shot or two. Because in foxhole moving -- not taking cover -- is ultimately the best way to avoid getting shot.
Still, at least our first goal was satisfied. Cover was valuable. We decided to move on to the second goal of adding suppression.
Being in cover confers a stability recharge bonus which lets you fire accurately more often.
Suppression and Cover, How it all Works Suppression works very simply. The more you’re suppressed, the slower your stability recharges after firing. Cover gives you a bonus to this stability recharge, so a fully-suppressed player in full-cover will not notice a difference had he been out of cover and not suppressed (like it is in the previous patch).
Shooting at enemy players will lower their cover bonus and accuracy bonus. Suppress your enemies before you attack!
Cover also confers one extra benefit: hit mitigation. Whether you are dodging around in circles, or if you are sitting still in full cover, both should make you hard to kill. Cover, therefore, absorbs some of the shots that would otherwise hit you, though we had to tweak some weapons to make this feel realistic. For example, Sniper Rifles are very good at hitting targets behind cover. Several other weapons were tweaked as well, trying to make sure that every weapon serves a purpose under these new mechanics.
Range is also a factor for mitigation. If you are close to a target in cover, the mitigation is lessened somewhat. We did this because in some cases, players shooting at each other at point-blank seemed almost cartoonish.
Some weapons like Sniper Rifles bypass the hit mitigation cover bonus.
For helping us test these features. So many of you answered the call in the devbranch to give us a chance to test these features in combat. Your feedback has been invaluable, and contributes tremendously to the end-product.
What we have now is just a starting point. We are quite certain that no matter what, players will not be completely satisfied with these changes, but we can always adjust it every few patches until it feels just right.
@Mark The Winter Update is coming It's that time of the year again! Foxhole's annual end of the year update is on the horizon and we're almost ready to start showing you guys what we've been working on for months. We started working on the Winter Update right after Update 26 shipped back in June as some of the features required some brand new tech to make happen. So what's coming before the end of the year?
Well as you all know, combat engineers have been waiting for the base building to be revamped for well over a year now. I can safely say that it would have been worth the wait come December. The Winter Update will not only introduce some new systems for building bases in Foxhole, but it will also lay the foundation for a lot of exciting new content in early 2020. Besides combat engineers, there are other roles in the game that will also see some improvements and features.
Some of the features we've put into Update 31 are there to support mechanics that will be introduced in Winter Update. There's a lot going into our annual end of the year update, and not all of it will be revealed before release. Some things are better left for the community to discover on their own!
Be sure to tune in next week on Tuesday, November 19th at 2PM EDT for the first sneak peek at what's coming in the Winter Update.