The Road to ReCrescent: Part #1

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The Road to ReCrescent: Part #1
A sign of life from the team.


Hi, Crescent!
I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. Thank you for joining me for this first in a series of posts about our upcoming rework project for CTTT: Project ReCrescent.

Status update: we're alive, we're well, and we're still working on Crescent. We've been taking our sweet time doing it for various reasons, but it's still all in the works and progress is still being made. The last few months have been hectic for myself and the team, for good and bad reasons alike. With lots of things happening in our personal lives and other factors affecting our progress, we had to effectively postpone our work for a while too - but this is now behind us and we're back to the grind, picking up our pace again and moving onward.

At this point, we no longer have the luxury to just keep saying "we're working on it". It's been over a year since we started this overhaul project - though it grew much further than what we initially planned for it - and I believe that now is the time to start talking about some of the details behind this project. There is, of course, a lot to unpack with this one - far more than a single thread can do - but I feel like I owe you guys at least some sort of explanation at this point.

So: let's talk a little bit about ReCrescent, and what is actually going on.



Back in late 2020, when Crescent was still fairly active and regularly updated after it's successful relaunch in 2019, an important milestone in the development of Crescent TTT was made. After close to a year online, the team had a good opportunity to pause for a bit and take a step back, analyzing our progress and where the project stands. While v2 of CTTT was far, far better than the previous iteration from 2018, we still felt like something wasn't right. And indeed, at this point in time, we started to see the cracks in the seams of our work, which we knew will only grow more severe as time goes on if we don't do anything about it.
So, we decided to be proactive this time, and to try and fix the problems before they come back to bite us in the ass. And thus, codename ReCrescent was born.

But what is ReCrescent, exactly, and what is it trying to solve?

In July of 2020 I have made an announcement in our Discord, revealing ReCrescent and briefly talking about the goals we had for this redesign. I mentioned some of the more obvious problems like our way of doing RNG, the issues in our progression paths, and some of the technical challenges in bringing it all together. All of these are still true to this day: the first and foremost goal of ReCrescent is to address the shortcomings of our economy and progression design. However, as time went on and we dug deeper into our game theory and plans, we started to realize that there is much more that needs to be done.

Fast forward to early 2021. After months of experimenting, researching and tinkering, ReCrescent has grown in scope from a mid-sized economy overhaul to an entire redesign of many of the building blocks that form what we know as Crescent TTT. From rethinking a lot of the concepts that powered our progression and economy, through redesigning the combat and gunplay, to a massive technical overhaul that will allow us to prepare ourselves better for what's to come. Everything that we have learned since the moment of Crescent's first debute in 2018 was taken into consideration, in order to finally end up with a design that will stand the test of time for however long it is.

There is a lot of theory involved in ReCrescent, on game design and player behavior and longevitiy of gameplay concepts. Our previous talking points - the ones I showecased in the announcement - have been developed and reiterated into three main 'points of failure' in the current design of Crescent TTT - and therefore, our three main guiding factors in this overhaul project. And this is what we will discuss today, taken directly from our over 5,000 words game design doc that we have wrote over time, describing our goals and what needs to be done - and that I hope to shrare in full once we get closer to the goal.



What is wrong with Crescent TTT right now, then? The shortcomings of Crescent TTT can be categorized into three main points:

  • Content Shallowness: there is a content problem in Crescent, but it does not stem from a lack of it - there is plenty of content across all of CTTT and vast amounts of potential for more. The root of the problem, instead, comes from the actual depth and longetivity this content provides. We have complex and robust weapon and player customization systems which can provide countless hours of entertainment, but we failed to realize thjeir full potential by crippled it with various limitations and unfortunate choices. We have a solid foundation to create a booming virtual ecosystem upon, but we do not allow it to reach this height due to improper design choices and lackluster planning. We have a brilliant set of routine-breaking ideas and systems to keep things fresh and interesting, yet they cannot do much when they are not properly realized and are still in very early stages. In short: we have vast amounts of potential in CTTT that have simply not tapped into yet. All this ends up in players getting bored quickly and losing interest, despite all our efforts.
    In other words: our content suffers from shallowness: it has much potential but we are only scratching the surface of it. The focus here, therefore, should be on freeing these limitations we have placed upon our creation, and embracing the depth it can provide. Through properly building upon our existing work and unlocking these unvisited content paths, we can easily add many layers of interest and entertainment and produce longer-engaging and more efficient content, with much less effort than one might think.

  • Incorrect Application of RNG: RNG is not used correctly in CTTT, which ends up hindering a lot of the natural progression in the game. Players do not feel like they are actually progressing in the game while playing, which in turn discourages them from interacting further with these systems and slowly pushes them away from the game completely.
    However, contrary to the immediate conclusion one might draw from this, the problem is not the use of RNG itself, or from being too stingy/unforgiving with it. The real problem, instead, lies in how RNG as a mechanic is applied to the various systems that make up CTTT, and how it is presented and accessed via gameplay. It is not a numbers problem; it's a 'feeling' problem.
    In the current design, RNG is accessed frequently and cheaply, and as such is tuned to be rather stingy with 'winning' to balance things out. Let's take unboxing as an example: while completely fair from a design standpoint, on the player's end this (rightfully) feels like a complete waste of time. A player who just opened 200 boxes and only got a handful of worthy items will always feel disappointed, even though these boxes were dirt cheap and simply reflect a logical 'effort to value' ratio. The numbers add up perfectly, but they feel very wrong.
    This isn't the only woe with our RNG usage, though: RNG is also not really used in the right places. Instead of embracing our customization systems (see above) and allowing deeper and more meaningful ways to introduce variety to the game, it is used to 'gate' the most direct progression routes - and this has proven to be a bad idea from both the player's prespective and the progression of the game as a whole. For example: we use RNG to gate the earning of items (e.g. unboxing), instead of using it to allow a wider variety of items and options. Engaging with RNG and rolling again and again in hope of maxing the value of what you have feels endlessly better and more fair than having to roll again and again just to get it to begin with. Our goal, therefore, should be to move the burden of RNG from the essential progression paths and into the deeper mechanics and options that CTTT offers.

  • Incompatible Gameplay: the actual gameplay of Crescent TTT, including gunplay, combat, and the various custom additions like WepMods and Traits, was first fleshed out back in the early development stages of v1, when the direction of the game wasn't very clear and we were far less experienced. Ever since the improvements of v2 and all that happened since, gameplay was significantly improved and is better received across the board; These improvements, however, were more like a set of band-aid fixes rather than a proper reconsideration of what we want the gameplay of CTTT to feel like. Nowadays, when the direction of the project is clearer and better defined, it's easy to see that our gameplay fails to complement the rest of the parts that make up CTTT.
    The gameplay of CTTT v1 was initially designed with a CS:GO-like mindset. Short, sub-second conflicts that reward precision and mechnical superiority over adaptiveness and strategizing. This quickly proved unfitting to the flow of the game mode and was heavily criticized by players. In v2, the design was led away from these concepts, and instead progressed towards a more fast-paced flow that focused less on precision and more on creativity. With the addition of Traits which changed things significantly, the reworking of accuracy and recoil, and the removal of some limiting factors such as WepMod penalties and damage falloff, the gameplay of CTTT flows better and more naturally, with more freedom to experiment with differents builds and setups.
    A lot of these improvements, however, were applied without much consideration into the deeper effects they have on the game and how they interact with the rest of the design. Many of these changes, such as the penalty changes and accuracy rework, were done in a hurry as part of the preparations for v2, during a time where the future of CTTT wasn't clear. In a hindsight, this was a mistake - we should have taken more time to plan these changes out and integrate them properly into our gunplay.
    Now that we know better, we are ready to tackle these deeper changes and redo the whole thing properly. Our goal is to completely disconnect ourselves from the CS:GO-esque remains in our design, and fully embrace the faster pace and wild nature of current CTTT. We would like to make conflicts more engaging and interactive, to properly integrate Traits into the core design and allow them to truly shine rather than be occasional gimmicks, to allow more freedom and creativity in playing instead of limiting it, and to introduce more new and interesting concepts into the mix in a way that complements the rest rather than oversteps them. This is also an opportunity for a thorough rebalancing of everything that makes up the gunplay, including a chance to change or outright cancel ideas that proved unhealthy to the experience.


The points above provide a pretty good summarization of what we think the issues with CTTT are, and what we should do in order to ease them. They are, of course, broad by definiton because they have to encompass various smaller flaws and problems. However, I believe that by going over these, you can already have a better idea of what ReCrescent is actually trying to achieve and what can be expected of it.



Now that we have all this in mind, let's move on to briefly talk about the "what's next". The more practical stuff. We have split the goals of ReCrescent into four main categories, each focusing on a different section of the game. Some of these are far larger than the others, but each of them addresses a key area of CTTT and applies the above points into the redesign. Of course, we cannot go into specific details yet, but we do want to provide you with a general layout of the actions and changes you can expect when all this finally comes to life.
These categories are:


Economy Redesign
  • Increase content depth and expand what can be done with our existing systems
  • Add new features and content to increase longetivity and variety
  • Utilize RNG to add depth to content rather than simply gate it

In our economy redesign, we would like to address some of the main pain points that make progressing and playing CTTT in the long term a frustrating or disappointing experience. This is the largest part of ReCrescent and touches on many different topics - some of which we cannot say much about yet - but here are some examples in hope of giving you a better idea.

One important task here is to rework unboxing from the ground up. We want to make unboxing a meaningful part of the game and something to look forward to, rather than a cheap and repetitive thing that feels unrewarding and mundane.
From the mechanics that power it, through the chances and numbers behind it, to the look and feel of it all. Points #1 and #2 go directly into this part: allowing more depth and repurposing RNG to be an encouraging force rather than a discouraging one.

Another good example is reworking how weapons are obtained, built, and customized. We already talked in the past about how we want to decouple the components of a weapon from each other to allow wider and less restrictive customizations - e.g. decoupling skins from weapons. We are also interested in shifting the RNG factor here: instead of using it to gate the way you obtain weapons, we want to use it to make customizing your builds more engaging and to allow more variety in them.

We also want to add new and interesting ideas and expand existing ones, e.g. StatTrak, which we feel like we are only scratching the surface of the potential of; or to rebalance things better and revisit concepts that didn't pan out as we hoped, e.g. the Special quality tier, which is currently a weird idea with no clear rules or meaning. Wearables and cosmetics are another good example: an idea with lots of potential that we simply never finished.

There is a lot more, of course, that we can't reveal just yet. Some of the things we plan are fairly game-changing and will effect CTTT significantly. I hope these examples will give you a better idea of what we have in mind. We will reveal more information about all this as things progress, so stay tuned.
Combat Overhaul
  • Redesign combat from its core to match the intended game flow
  • Increase conflict interactivity to allow more varied gameplay
  • Eliminate inconsistencies and powercreeping in gunplay
  • Make gameplay more friendly towards new players

While infinitely better in v2 than originally, the combat of CTTT is still lackluster in some areas and can be improved further. Some newer concepts like Traits feel like they don't integrate well enough into the core mechanics of combat, and there is still a feeling of inconsistency and lack of direction in many aspects of the gunplay.

We would like to make conflicts more interesting and to completely move away from the CS:GO-esque roots of our gunplay, that still hinder it to this day. For example: accuracy and recoil is all over the place and feels like an afterthought, partly due to the rebalancing in early v2 because of lack of direction.

Our very short TTK prevents a lot of the depth in CTTT from being realized: The various WepMods, Traits and weapons fail to make any meaningful difference on combat unless they directly effect damage output. This, in turn, makes the combat in CTTT very reptitive and shallow which adds to the longetivity problems seen elsewhere in the game. We would like to address this in hopes of letting the full potential of our complex gunplay systems shine.

Another point that needs to be addressed is powercreeping within the arsenal available for players. Some parts of combat system, especially Traits, have proven to completely overshadow other options - in way that merely tweaking the values cannot help much. With so much already changing as part of ReCrescent, this would be an ideal timing to dive into the very core of the issue and make some drastic changes that wouldn't fly otherwise.

Lastly, there are plenty of new additions we are looking to add. New Traits and mechanics, WepMods, T/D weapons, and much more.
New Features and Content
  • Attract new and returning players with new content
  • Complement the changes introduced by ReCrescent and ease the transfer into them
  • Experiment with new ways to futher increase the longetivity of player interest
  • Return to unfinished business/plans and clear some long-waiting backlog items

Alongside the many modifications and changes that ReCrescent will introduce, we also want to take this as an opportunity to improve our offering as a whole. Since we're already diving deep into the code and remaking various things, this might as well be time to attend to some unfinished business.

Some features that have long waited in the backlog will hopefully be available once ReCrescent hits. Some examples I can already mention are achievements, leaderboards, hit sounds, and improved Legendary effects.
We also wish to expand and improve some existing systems. For example, our market section could use some more work, and cosmetics/wearables could use some more attention too. The fun rounds of CTTT also need some work, and so does the HUD. We also want to expand our Kickstart system into something more powerful and meaningful.

Of course, these are just a few examples. There are obviously a lot of ideas, big and small, that we wish to implement into CTTT one day. This is simply the stuff I can already talk about safely.

An important note is that not all of this is guaranteed to arrive alongside ReCrescent. It is not unlikely that some of these will be delayed for later to avoid postponing the release of ReCrescent any further. This is a more grey area for sure, but still one we wish to plan for and implement at least partially.
Technical Foundation Rework
  • Increase our ability to support new and interesting features in the future
  • Reduce the amount of work and/or effort required for new content
  • Fix issues, deal with technical debt and make our technology easier and more simple to maintain
  • Improve the performance of the game, of our servers, and the integration of the various parts that are tied into it

The many changes that ReCrescent brings required us to make some significant changes to how our technical foundation works. Crescent TTT is also sporting one of the best GMod code bases available today, but there is always more to be done and many ways to improve it further. Given we were already tearing apart and rebuilding many chunks of the code, we decided to commit to it fully and use this as an opportunity to rework many aspects of the code, to make our life easier when developing and improve the performance of it all.

A lot of this is happening behind the scenes, and you may not see much of it in action on your end. However, this is just as important for the health and longevity of CTTT as everything else mentioned so far. It will allow us to quicken our workflow when working on new features and ideas, to reduce the chance of bugs and glitches, and to make CTTT an overall more pleasant experience.

One thing I want to focus on specifically is the way all of our services integrate together. Think of things like OpalBot, SBridge, our store, and various other things that need to cross a bridge between two different 'realms'. This is always a technical challenge (especially when dealing with ancient technology such as Source) but we are constantly improving and making things more powerful, which will hopefully pay off in the future. Cross-server chat? Discord integration? Market display in the website? An OpalBot that doesn't fail at various tasks? Imagine that, and more.


Indeed, there is a lot to unpack here. This is far from complete or exhaustive, but I hope it will help you understand ReCrescent better and the sheer scope of it. As we get closer to the release we hope to dive deeper into each of these sections and explain them more thoroughly.



Now it's time to face the elephant in the room, or the million dollars question that you all must have: RECRESCENT WHEN???

Short answer: we don't know yet.
Long answer: there's still a lot to be done until ReCrescent is ready and up to our standards. Our unplanned postponing of development has pushed our sechdule backwards a fair bit and we are only recently getting back into things. Given how the community is already dorment and waiting, we're better off focusing ourt efforts entirely on this front. We hope that once we make additional progress and pick up the pace, we will be able to give some ETAs or at least better estimates. Indeed, it's been a very, very long time since the work on this project started, and our productivity has been nowhere near where we hoped it will be, for various reasons. At the end of the day, we're a tiny team with only so much time to dedicate in a given day. Now that we're back in the game, however, we hope things will change for the better.

I'm sorry that I have no better answer to give yet, even after all this time. I hope this won't be the case for long.




That's it for now. I hope you found the information in this post useful and that it gave you a better idea on what's happening with Crescent and ReCrescent. We've been quiet for a while for various reasons, but I hope that things will now turn for the better. We can't change what happened so far, but we can work on making sure the future is better.

On a more persoanl note: thank you for sticking with us throughout all this, desptie how long it has been. This is not how I hoped we will celebrate the beginning of Crescent's third year (and I'm sorry that our Halloween event was cancelled this year!) but it is my hope and responsibility that the next milestones in the project history will be different. Your support means a lot to us, even if it's just by staying around and waiting to see what we're up to next. On behalf of myself and the team, thank you for your patience and for staying with us.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or anything you want to say, you already know how to reach us: Hit us up on Discord, Steam, or here in the forums.


Stay awesome,
~Opalium
💛
 

Goose

Admin
Crescent Plus
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
56
Thank you for the transparency on whats going on with ReCrescent. I feel this will make things a lot easier to handle over time now.

However, since there is still not a bird statue in every map displaying our dominance, I will sadly have to decline this project. I'm sure you will understand.

Thank you for your interest. You may reach out to us again once our conditions have been met.

Hjonkcerely, Goose.
 
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Siddo

IQ below 0
Crescent Plus
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
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I'm not sure how this all ties into the Valleyfog storyline, but I'm sure Team Crescent will iterate on that and flesh it out in the mid-season patch. I'm sure they won't just retcon everything to make the narrative fit with the new direction.