Major user experience issues in the lobby

Lobby UX streamlining suggestions - Fewer lobbies and a drawable map in game.

Hey Devs,

I had great fun in your game over the Big Alpha weekend, but I have one fairly major gripe and that’s with the lobby system. I often found myself waiting far longer in the lobby than actually playing, and it simply didn’t have to be that way. A few more iterations on the design could clean the user experience up nicely. Here are my breakdown and thoughts.

LOBBY 1) I start the game, I join a waiting room where I can choose my role priorities and invite my friends. That’s great, makes sense.

LOBBY 2) We search and find a party, but we’re given a 1-2 minute countdown to give time to people choosing their new preferences. Two problems with this:

  1. The countdown needs an “press f3 for ready” override. This simple omission greatly reduces the enjoyment of a play session, both long or short ones.
  2. Most importantly, people have already chosen their role prioritization in Lobby 1. As such, this lobby is completely unnecessary. If I want to make role adjustments based on who ends up being in the lobby, do that in lobby 4.

LOBBY 3) We accept our preferences and start loading the map. Some of us load much faster than others, but we’ve nothing to do but wait and stare. Another major sore point. I think people who’ve already loaded the game can jump straight to lobby 4 to take a look at their options.

LOBBY 4) Everyone is loaded and assigned a role. You can also swap roles. As an aside, there is very little indication that you can swap roles with your fellows and that really needs to be made much clearer. This is where most of the lobby action should take place.

I propose the following changes to greatly streamline the experience. After lobby 1, the newly formed party jumps straight to a modified version of lobby 4. No map load is done yet. We enter the lobby, poke around with the characters and their perks, maybe look around at the various 2d maps while people are getting settled. Players get something interesting to look at and get some much needed strategy time on the role side. Once all players are in and hit ready (or a countdown timer goes off), the map is selected and hunters are assigned their roles. People have their role swaps and are allowed to cancel selections if required. They hit ready (and a second timer). The monster selects his role and perks. End scene. Map now loads. People who are done loading early jump into the next lobby right away.

LOBBY 5) This in-game lobby was great at first, but experiencing the same 30 seconds over and over was pretty rough. It’s a shame as this is really a prime time to strategize. What’s more, you could add to the excitement of the scene. You have 30 seconds to look at the map before it’s all action. Use it wisely.

What’s more, I suggest that players can hit a button to get a huge version of the map that they can draw on using their role colour (and a super quick way to mute people’s ability to draw dicks all over the map). They get a much needed chance to discuss tactics, places to split up, good hiding spots, etc. Veterans can impart wisdom onto noobs, which is great for so many reasons. And lastly, players won’t get as bored with repetition.

LOBBY 6) This post-game lobby could really use some streamlining as well. My suggestions here would simply be to make it far shorter. Perhaps show more of the progress icons at once (zoom out), and animate the numbers at 4x speed with less camera movement. Also, showing ‘character’, ‘player’, and ‘performance?’ progress in three separate rows but on the same screen would really speed things along. In short, a simple redesign of these elements all on one screen would really help this lobby along. I loved seeing my progress, especially when something cool unlocked, but it became really cumbersome over time. Allowing people to hit OK and then jump straight into the modified Lobby 4 again would also really help reduce down time.

All together, I think these changes would reduce the downtime from 6-8 minutes to around 2-4, which is HUGE, especially when you compare that to an average round time of 10-15 mins. Heck, we had some games that lasted a mere 3 minutes. With the current system that’s a 2:1 ratio of downtime, at best.

I know to many players and devs, this may seem really nit-picky, but please consider that it’s the games that take the extra time to clean up these fiddly user experience bits that succeed in the long run. You’ve made an excellent product here, a fantastic exploration of the Left 4 Dead formula. Let’s all make sure that you succeed.

The load and lobby times issue has already been addressed, see this dev post;

Suggestions of a drawable map are cool though.

Also welcome to the TRS forums!

Thanks Stelarch.

Obviously, I haven’t played the latest version so I’m not sure to what extent faster load times resolve the issue. I can’t help but feel that speeding up the design is a poor substitute for a thoughtful tweaking. On the other hand, it is a far cheaper solution and understand the dev’s desires to tweak existing knobs. I am very glad that they have tweaked those knobs though.

Anyhow, my suggestion for merging lobbies 2-4 into one lobby remains. It might take a few days of coding, depending on their implementation, but that in conjunction with shorter load times would go a long way to improving the user experience. I would imagine that this is a high priority for a game that they’re planning on keeping around for 5+ years.

Lobby 5, the ship gates, also is still in need of some love. I understand that the monster needs to get a head start, but having the 4 other players sit there for the same 30-60 seconds over and over is needlessly boring. A map would solve that, by being both a strategic tool and a doodle toy to pass the time.

I hope this better summarizes my suggestions. For more detail, my initial post dives a little deeper.

@SeeJay this is not the average Big Alpha feedback, If he played this weekend he used the latest build of the game.

Anyway, yes this has been addressed and discussed in detail. I’m sure they have this issue on the next “to-do” list.

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I think you will find if you keep reading around the tread that post is linked from and others you will find they have made a few changes, it was also state that the big alpha build was already months old.

I am sure the devs will read your suggestions and hopefully things like fewer lobbies and the way lobbies are approached will be different in their current version already.
I don’t think the drop ship is really that long so that wouldn’t worry me, a drawable map is cool but probably a bit code intensive for this late in the game dev cycle. The game should be shipped off for being certified within the next few weeks. Especially considering Christmas is coming.

Also a point the devs have made about the game being basically done at this point;

I don’t mean to hurl so many quotes are you I just want to quickly update you with where things are at to give context to the likely hood of those changes before release.

Also the devs are extremely active on these forums so they may well post to this topic and clear up what the lobby system currently looks like as, like you, I often felt a bit ‘over lobbied’ trying to get into a game.

Edit: @Essen just made a good point, when did you last play Evolve? Is this delayed feedback from the Big Alpha 3+ weeks ago or are you talking about having played recently at a convention or press event?

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Even if he played a more recent version, it still won’t be the final version and could very well have been the alpha build if there wasn’t access to tier 3 characters seeing as how he couldn’t have had access to the final build given that the 3rd monster wasn’t available.


I would really love the ability to export/download/save the final ‘map’ that shows where everyone went and the times of abilities used. Even more so if you can pause, slow down, etc…

Yes, my post is from playing the Big Alpha; I should probably edit that.

I do understand that I’ve started playing very late in their development cycle for even the simplest changes. I’m surprised that it got this far with such a painful lobby experience to be honest. If they’re already passed making changes however, I suppose there’s little weight to this post then.

As for time limitations, the draw-able map code is pretty easy actually, especially since they’ve already got a map that draws based on players walking the map. Change a few inputs, and you’re done. At least that would be the case in a small dev team; I’ve no idea what the limitations of a huge dev team\publisher relationship would be.

As I’ve said before, I think it would really help a bunch of things, not just the waiting. For people okay with waiting in the holding area on the ship, you’re completely entitled to that. It simply drives me nuts to be stuck waiting in a character, experiencing the exact same, hollow 30-60 seconds over and over again. It’s like a bad, unskippable cinematic on loop. There’s no need for it to be like that.

All that said, again, I get that it’s too late. I just felt the need to give my two cents in the event that somewhere down the line, they decide to clean up their Lobby UX in a patch, DLC, whatever.

Thanks for the prompt updates everyone. I appreciate it.

Might be usefull and easy (or maybe not), but let’s not forget. This is a multi-plataform game for consoles as well… how awkward and annoying would it be to draw something on the map with a gamepad?! I mean on PC, sure perfectly fine … but on console? ughhh no!

A valid point. Coding a even simple solution over multiple platforms would be much more difficult. All the reason to get your product in your customer’s hands much sooner. But I digress.

As for gamepads and maps, I think that since the things you’re likely to be drawing are super simple snippets of paths around the map, even a gamepad could handle that to a reasonable extent. Anyhow, the my main point isn’t that we need a perfect map drawing system, but something tactical to discuss while waiting.

An alternative solution would that while you’re in the lobby ship, you have a map available with a numbered grid system setup. Players could just verbalize their ideas instead of drawing. “If the monster runs behind the big rock at A4, we split up at A2 and C4.”

It’s less powerful than drawing, but a lot better than being forced into battle unprepared and requires far less coding. The map already exists in game. Just let us bring up the map in the ship and add a simple grid system. Maybe add a simple tool tip to suggest people coordinate by chatting about the map. Done

It’s not a perfect idea, but it will help tactical thinking. And what’s more, it’s oh so much better than looping, unskippable cinematics.

I totally agree, I for once spent 30 minutes to even 1 hour briefing missions on Arma 2 long time ago and I can feel exactly why you would want such feature.
Unfortunately, due to the late stage of development, I don’t think we gonna see such a system implemented.

Perharps something less demanding, I would suggest more tools for the replay viewer lobby. Being able to freeze the replay at a certain point so you could zoom and draw directions to demonstrate the team what went wrong there. This surely would help to pass the time between the, back and forth, waiting on lobby menus.

I agree this could be frustrating but I do enjoy the preroll of seeing all the characters together and them talking while they wait to drop, so of the lines of dialogue for people talking with Bucket and Marcov made me laugh every time “Smells like old man farts after much cheese!”
I also used it the brief my team usually if needed because there are people not in our chat.

I still find it better than dota 2s staring at a clock for a literal minute and a half or the TF2 approach of being stuck on an invisible wall.

Also I feel like 30-60 seconds is longer than it actually is, but you have got me wondering now so tonight so I am going to load up one of the gameplay videos and time it =P

Heh. Please do.

I think if that were the only lobby waiting time, it’d probably be fine.

I dislike it mostly because I think it’s a sub-optimal solution to the problem of giving the monster a head start.
Check to see if they allow the map in the ship. That may help.

agree, lobby are WAY to long. especially when the monster(ie. me :frowning: ) has a really bad game end looses within the first 5min of the match. ending the match so quickly shouldn’t be rewarded with more waiting. with the current game market, like World of tanks: the waiting period for a match is 60 seconds. 30 seconds for match making which is not even needed most of the time and 30 seconds for loading and match start.

gamers became a custom to and use to jumping into matches in 60 seconds. some of us have busy lives and we have time for maybe a 20min play session. this game needs 30min to get the experience and that is depending on how good the monster/hunters are which is currently 25 min including all the waiting.

I’m in the beta now and it’s still not very good, but it is a lot better than the alpha.

The lobbies seem pretty buggy at the moment, skipping certain sections without warning. Weird behaviour, but faster lobbies :smile:

The ability to vote to skip some lobby sections will become more popular as people become accustomed to it. A more visible GUI for that would go a long way. A different colour for that button and a very apparent popup to let you know a Vote to Skip has been initiated would help accelerate this for new players.

I also think that the campaign mode will be really popular as it means less lobbies and waiting for users overall. Although, the 5 min rounds problem will be compounded if the monster is less skilled and keeps losing for 5 rounds.

I still think my above suggestions of having more player\character decisions made in fewer lobbies would go a long way, but frankly, it’s way too far along for such large changes. At this point, streamlining the existing GUI with better colours, placements and tooltips would help people who are waiting patiently, yet needlessly, simply because they don’t know any better.

I bet a lot of this will go away with a more experienced player base, which is probably why this didn’t bother in-house testers. Let’s just be as vocal as possible with new players to help the lobbies along.

My fifteen cents.

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Nice Laz. I think this is a record. Welcome to the forums @tanghao. Stick around and try not to unearth graves.

@Hillbilly_Deathlord, @Sentry_Gun