Hey there, so after searching through here, I know this is a well-worn topic, but for good reason! The Game World Ports is a cool idea albeit…Rough around the edges. As a newbie, I thought I’d share my initial impressions, and build on some of the ideas I’ve seen discussed here with this perspective in mind.
New player impressions:
To start, the Game World Ports are kind of…Confusing, and a little overwhelming. There’s a bunch of games, some of which are pretty clear in what they are, but a few are less clear, like Virus, Little Crusaders, and Planet Panic. Not to mention Planet Panic isn’t open but doesn’t have a coming soon sign, so it’s kind of unclear what’s going on there for a newcomer.
Personally, I just dug through the help menu and brushed up on what was up with each game, but I think that infoboxes as seen in Laser Tag & Trivia could help others more easily learn about them. Although I also imagine this is something already in consideration.
Besides that, there’s the, uh…Matchmaking spiral thing. I gotta be honest, this part of the Ports still confuses me a little. As with the games, maybe an infobox here could help clarify it a little, as my initial impression was that it seemed weirdly redundant. I’m pretty sure now I have a better understanding of it, as I guess it’s a cross-server version of the Ports for forming groups to play games, hence matchmaking & all, but it wasn’t clear to me if it was like a sub-area of the server I initially joined or how it worked at first.
New player impressions over, now more substantive suggestions
Beyond adding some more infoboxes like those that appear near Lasertag & Trivia to the games/matchmaking spiral for new folks, I also have some other ideas I think more pertinent to experienced players.
Improving Ports Usage
For each game, check if there’s already public/open servers with active games being hosted by someone near to the server’s region, and make it so the interaction is, “Choose game to join” vs. “Join queue” or whatever it is now. The menu displayed would also change to basically be a server list like from the main menu, but filtered by region and made accessible from in-game.
If there are no nearby public servers with active games running, then fall back to the queue menu for games like Little Crusaders or Virus, but for games that can be started solo, drop the existing thresholds & change the prompt to, “Begin game” or the like. From there the game can then be shown in the active games listing for others to join, since games started from the Ports default to public (if I’m not mistaken).
Also, to improve the odds of folks joining the queue for games requiring more players, maybe add an announcement after a few seconds of joining & staying in a queue for these games, e.g. “[Person] is interested in playing Virus. 1/12 queued. 4 needed to begin.” Then as more queue up, follow up with announcements, again after a few seconds of someone queueing & remaining queued, as needed till the game can start, e.g. “[Another Person] is interested in playing Virus. 2/12 Queued. 4 needed to begin.”
If the max player count proves discouraging or confusing, then instead make it so it just announces 1/4 queued, and drop the 4 needed to begin part. From there, similar announcement logic could be used elsewhere with mini-games requiring multiple players to be played at all, like Laser Tag & probably some others I’m unfamiliar with.
However, in the Matchmaking space, these announcements could simply be dropped since people are already in the Ports area where they can see that folks are queued.
Alongside these changes, I’d suggest making it so public games started from the menu are announced in chat in servers nearest to the host regionally, & displayed in the Ports’ active games listings. If I’ve read right, I think it already does this (or did this at one point?) with games being started from the Ports, but it’s so infrequent I can’t recall if I’ve seen it or not tbh.
Anyway, by announcing it in the chat, it may draw folks to visit the Ports much like the Plaza Mini-Games announcements sometimes draw folks to join in & play those.
I know a lot of these ideas aren’t necessarily new from reading older posts, but I think they may adjust some of them just enough that they may be a little better. If nothing else, I didn’t see the announcement ideas proposed in a few of the older threads I looked at, and in terms of small but impactful changes, I think it could be one of those if handled well.
Thanks for reading!