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RMT Boosting ... a cautionary tale

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Redlynne
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RMT Boosting ... a cautionary tale

Part 1


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Part 2

Part 2


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Some good points in there.

Some good points in there.

One player being able to sell Playing Time to another player for in-game currency (IGC) sounds like something MWM might be considering. It is basically a way for people with a lot of real world money to make a lot of in-game money without ever even playing the game. I hope MWM is dissuaded from doing implementing anything like it.

I know there is a separate discussion about creating equity* between those players who have a lot of available playing time but little IRL wealth and those players with a lot of IRL wealth but little available playing time. Both sets of players claim they don't want their characters to be handicapped because of their IRL deficiencies in either time or money.

One of the biggest causes for this is the local value of money. As BellularGaming mentions, $4 an hour is above the average hourly wage of some countries and cause players there to try other means to get playtime. The best way to counter this is for the game publisher to pro-rate subscription time based upon the prevalent wages of the player locale. A $15/month subscription seems reasonable for an American, but would be exorbitant in some other countries. I'm not sure if this is standard practice for game publishers, but should at least be acknowledged as a potential issue.

The biggest cause of this was not even mentioned by BellularGaming until his final point. In my opinion, the biggest cause of this is the very nature of "end game" content. In other words, before end-game, people play the game by running quests, interacting with NPC's, learn and grow. Once reaching "end-game," players have a different experience altogether. It all becomes about getting a minimum set of gear in order to consume the new content of the latest update. CoT end-game is still up in the air. I guess we'll see.

This bit is something I really hope MWM implements, regarding APEX Legends' Ping system: https://youtu.be/3oMzbIahTrk?t=1419

* Equity not equality. Equity is equal outcome, equality is equal opportunity. Whether the game should attempt equity at all is another discussion entirely.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Redlynne
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

One player being able to sell Playing Time to another player for in-game currency (IGC) sounds like something MWM might be considering. It is basically a way for people with a lot of real world money to make a lot of in-game money without ever even playing the game. I hope MWM is dissuaded from doing implementing anything like it.

The concept is broadly similar to PLEX used in Eve Online.
The hazard that Blizzard is running into with their implementation is that there is functionally a way to use WoW Tokens as a "middleman currency" for RMT, allowing Players to extract value out of the in-game economy. This then puts Blizzard into a position of getting a "cut" of the RMT economy and a perverse incentive to perpetuate the system since Blizzard is profiting from it.

Huckleberry wrote:

In my opinion, the biggest cause of this is the very nature of "end game" content. In other words, before end-game, people play the game by running quests, interacting with NPC's, learn and grow. Once reaching "end-game," players have a different experience altogether. It all becomes about getting a minimum set of gear in order to consume the new content of the latest update.

It's a huge problem that "end game" in WoW is a unique environment, UNLIKE the rest of the game's playing environment, in which hyper-specialization gets rewarded in a content design heavily skewed towards the "Elitist Jerks" min/max crowd in an attempt to create a sense of difficulty via what amounts to Gear Checks on characters. Pair that up with stupidly low drop rates from unique mobs in raids (so like a 1% drop rate per raid run) and the GRIND starts getting both absurd and onerous in terms of demands on both your time and effort (not to mention, competition for those rare drops!).
Not all prayers to RNGesus are answered.

Combine that with an intolerant playerbase that has been conditioned to disband groups at the FIRST hint of adversity and you've created the conditions under which a Boosting Community will basically HAVE TO flourish in order to allow more than just the Chosen Few™ to play in the end game at all.
Like Bellular said, it's basically an indictment against the design of the game and the design of the content of the game ... hence why I bring these nuggets of wisdom here so MWM can take active measures to avoid the mistakes of WoW that have led to its downfall.

I've joked that WoW 8.0 was the Battle For Azeroth ... and WoW 10.0 will be the Battle Against FFXIV ...
"No king rules forever, my son."


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

One player being able to sell Playing Time to another player for in-game currency (IGC) sounds like something MWM might be considering. It is basically a way for people with a lot of real world money to make a lot of in-game money without ever even playing the game. I hope MWM is dissuaded from doing implementing anything like it.

The concept is broadly similar to PLEX used in Eve Online.
The hazard that Blizzard is running into with their implementation is that there is functionally a way to use WoW Tokens as a "middleman currency" for RMT, allowing Players to extract value out of the in-game economy. This then puts Blizzard into a position of getting a "cut" of the RMT economy and a perverse incentive to perpetuate the system since Blizzard is profiting from it.

I think the biggest difference between WoW and EVE Online is that EVE online is an open world sandbox in which the gear is created by players not rewarded by theme park attractions. The very content in EVE is a product of the conflicting motivations of the player base. As a result the financial interactions between players has a completely different impact on the game than it does in a themepark like WoW and like CoT will be. Any achievements gained by purchasing them (or paying a team of skilled players to carry your ass, which is what Boosting is) cheapen the achievements of every player who earned them. Furthermore the influx of IGC creates runaway inflation such that it increases the need to use real money to purchase more IGC, in a vicious self-reinforcing cycle. (I'll keep trying to bring this back to CoT)

Redlynne wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

In my opinion, the biggest cause of this is the very nature of "end game" content...

It's a huge problem that "end game" in WoW is a unique environment, UNLIKE the rest of the game's playing environment, in which hyper-specialization gets rewarded in a content design heavily skewed towards the "Elitist Jerks" min/max crowd in an attempt to create a sense of difficulty via what amounts to Gear Checks on characters. Pair that up with stupidly low drop rates from unique mobs in raids (so like a 1% drop rate per raid run) and the GRIND starts getting both absurd and onerous in terms of demands on both your time and effort (not to mention, competition for those rare drops!).
Not all prayers to RNGesus are answered.

Combine that with an intolerant playerbase that has been conditioned to disband groups at the FIRST hint of adversity and you've created the conditions under which a Boosting Community will basically HAVE TO flourish in order to allow more than just the Chosen Few™ to play in the end game at all.
Like Bellular said, it's basically an indictment against the design of the game and the design of the content of the game ... hence why I bring these nuggets of wisdom here so MWM can take active measures to avoid the mistakes of WoW that have led to its downfall.

Interesting note for people younger than you and me: Historically, end-game raiding is what the game designers put in when they needed to give the players something to do after they consumed the "real" game. Now there's an entire generation of players who view end-game raiding as the "real" game and the questing out in the world just a grind to get through to get to raiding. Nearly every live-streamer on Twitch and Youtube shares this view and promulgates it. Is there any wonder why so many players are willing to pay to skip the leveling process?

There are still a few efforts to bring back "Old School" MMOs in which the questing in the world is still the intended meat of the player meal. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is one that springs to mind. I think ESO does a much better job at keeping the players involved in the world than WoW, but FFXIV not so much. FFXIV still caters to the end-game raider customers, but its FATE system and other features like restarting every class at level 1 do keep the world lively. (aside: Thank the Twelve that Square Enix updated the main storyline raids to make cut scenes mandatory, because a few years ago, if you didn't skip them the raid would leave you behind. Thousands of players like me never got a chance to follow the story until just a couple years ago finally.)


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

I think the biggest difference between WoW and EVE Online is that EVE online is an open world sandbox in which the gear is created by players not rewarded by theme park attractions. The very content in EVE is a product of the conflicting motivations of the player base. As a result the financial interactions between players has a completely different impact on the game than it does in a themepark like WoW and like CoT will be. Any achievements gained by purchasing them (or paying a team of skilled players to carry your ass, which is what Boosting is) cheapen the achievements of every player who earned them. Furthermore the influx of IGC creates runaway inflation such that it increases the need to use real money to purchase more IGC, in a vicious self-reinforcing cycle. (I'll keep trying to bring this back to CoT)

Exactly.
It's the difference between "play the game OUR way, using OUR souped up perfect gear ... or else" when it comes to defined power progression that requires jumping through hoops to achieve.

To expound on that Cautionary Tale Of Woe ... the best example I can think of is, ironically ... Diablo II ... and what happened when the most aptly named expansion ever, Lord of Destruction, got released.

In (original) Diablo II ... RARES WERE KING.
Rare drop items were random.
Random item type with random 1-3 prefixes and random 1-3 suffixes.
This basically meant that the "best items" in the game were all randomized with a favorable mix of affixes modifying their throughput.
Because rare quality items were (top to bottom) random, no two characters were ever exactly the same in their performance, even with identical skill selections, due to the sheer randomness of what you could find and equip from rare item drops.

There were (so called) Unique Items in Diablo II, which dropped randomly, but those Unique Items were anything but "unique" as items.
All (so called) Unique Items were basically "legalized dupes" that were enabled by the Blizzard (North) staff which "broke the rules" of what affixes were allowed on what item slots.
This meant that the (so called) Unique Items gave you access to affix modifiers in item slots where those modifiers would normally not be available, but this also meant that a character completely decked out in (so called) Unique Items would be a cookie cutter duplicate for another character similarly decked out in the same (so called) Unique Items ... because these items were essentially "legalized dupes" created by the developers and put into the game as easter eggs for Players to find.

Before (the most aptly named expansion ever) Lord of Destruction ... these "legalized dupes" in the form of (so called) Unique Items weren't a problem, because on a LOT of the (so called) Unique items the affixes they carried were not the most powerful and singularly beneficial in the game. Aside from the occasional "rule breaker" affix modifier, it was usually the case that a "perfect Rare" item could exceed the throughput of a (so called) Unique Item in most of the item slots that could be equipped. So the (legalized dupe, so called) Unique Items mainly wound up being "quirky" to use, rather than the automatic "best" to use by default. This dynamic created a "churn of demand" for the actually unique Rare items with randomized affixes on them which were ACTUALLY unique due to randomness with the occasional (so called) Unique Item thrown in to access affixes that were normally not accessible in specific item slots.

ALL of that changed when the (oh so aptly named) Lord of Destruction expansion got released.
Blizzard North had noticed the feedback deriding the (so called) Unique Items as being 90% vendor trash, aside from a few rare exceptions, and they (unwisely, as it turned out) decided that they wanted to upend the game's balance point and "dethrone" Rare Items as the pinnacle of achievement in power progression. So they modified the (so called) Unique Items to make them almost uniformly Best In Slot in every single instance. Needless to say, this had the desired effect ... Players started ditching their Rare Items (which were actually unique!) in favor of the "more powerful" (meaning, game breaking) newly souped up (so called) Unique Items ... and suddenly, every character build in the game became optimized around having dupes of the same combination of (not actually) Unique Items equipped.

With a single expansion, Blizzard North created ... BY DELIBERATE DESIGN ... the destruction of a game balance in which every single character in the game, even with "identical" builds, played differently.
In Diablo II (now classic) it was possible to have an "individual" character, thanks to Rare Items.
In the (oh so aptly named!) Lord of Destruction expansion, it became IMPOSSIBLE to have an "individual" character, because all the "best" builds were simply loaded up with (so called) Unique Items (that were anything BUT unique!) turning most characters into carbon copy cookie cutter clones of each other.

Basically, the Developers wanted to tell the Players ... "Play with OUR stuff, not with YOUR stuff that makes you actually unique individuals!" ... and the (so called) Conventional Wisdom™ shifted accordingly to exploit the new meta of the game.
It's been 20 years now, and I'm still pretty salty about the way that Blizzard (North) basically wrecked the stable yet dynamic balance of their own game in order to inflate their way to a predictably static and endlessly duplicated balance point in the expansion.
I played the (truth in advertising) Lord of Destruction expansion for about 2 months and just gave up on the game, after having been a pillar of the theorycrafting community for some 7-8 months prior ... creating an entirely new and previously almost unheard of build strategy that became widely (although not universally) adopted among Bowazons. The expansion successfully DESTROYED my desire to play the game, and even now I have no desire to purchase, let alone play, the remaster of the game that has just been released.

I mean, seriously ... when Carbot Animations(!) can legitimately make a joke like this ... which only hurts because it's true ... yeah, you can keep your wreck of a game away from my computer.

Diablo III when it launched, simply doubled down and tripled down on this abject stupidity of making the "legalized dupes" in the form of (so called) Unique Items being the pinnacle of power progression.
The ultimate culmination of this was then in the form of the in-game auction house, where ... surprise-ibus, surprise-ibus! ... RMT and gold selling became a real problem that started undermining the game almost from the start.
In other words, Blizzard had learned NOTHING from their past game design failures that resulted from the (oh so aptly named!) Lord of Destruction expansion when it came to game balance optimization through random drops of gear.
It was all cookie cutters all over again.

That same mentality then carried over into World of Warcraft, where all the "best gear" is a ridiculously low drop chance item that is obtained from an endgame boss, making all the itemization that came before it obsolete.
And then when Blizzard released their first WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade ... they did it again.
Green quality items dropping in the new higher level zones completely outstripped the power progression of what had previously been endgame blues, purples and sometimes even orange legendary items.
The stupid power inflation scheme was already in effect.
Don't play the game YOUR way ... play the game OUR WAY, with the itemization that WE (deign to) give you as being the Best In Slot (BiS)!

And everything devolves into cookie cutters, boosting and RMT ... because of how the rewards are essentially Gated Content Rewards ... and the cycle of enforced cookie cutter stupidity continues.

It's precisely this kind of meta-game behavior that always makes me leery of what functionally amounts to "gear sets" in games.
City of Heroes suffered mightily from this problem with its Invention Sets and set bonuses.
Once you make an obvious Best In Slot option obvious, everything else gets thrown on the vendor trash pile.
Sure, there were a lot of Invention Sets ... most of which were never used as anything other than vendor trash (I'm thinking that some 80% of all Invention Sets were "worthless") with only rare exceptions.

Huckleberry wrote:

Interesting note for people younger than you and me: Historically, end-game raiding is what the game designers put in when they needed to give the players something to do after they consumed the "real" game. Now there's an entire generation of players who view end-game raiding as the "real" game and the questing out in the world just a grind to get through to get to raiding. Nearly every live-streamer on Twitch and Youtube shares this view and promulgates it. Is there any wonder why so many players are willing to pay to skip the leveling process?

There are still a few efforts to bring back "Old School" MMOs in which the questing in the world is still the intended meat of the player meal. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is one that springs to mind. I think ESO does a much better job at keeping the players involved in the world than WoW, but FFXIV not so much. FFXIV still caters to the end-game raider customers, but its FATE system and other features like restarting every class at level 1 do keep the world lively. (aside: Thank the Twelve that Square Enix updated the main storyline raids to make cut scenes mandatory, because a few years ago, if you didn't skip them the raid would leave you behind. Thousands of players like me never got a chance to follow the story until just a couple years ago finally.)

I would posit that the key insight is that if you make your "end game" content a significantly different environment than then "leveling" content, you'll wind up with a bifurcation of your game environment that will act in a way that is long term detrimental. Environmental pressures inform and alter the mental calculus as to what is "optimal" for being able to succeed in those respective environments.

For example, a Mastermind might be able to operate "just fine" in an environment where engagements and combat can be relatively controlled ... but in a Mothership or Hamidon Raid where combat is excessively chaotic, the Mastermind build is severely disadvantaged and undercut by the pacing and power levels involved in those environments, to the point where the Mastermind is going to wind up "petless" for most if not all of the raid due to the fact that the raid environment is actively and deliberately designed to be hostile to the Mastermind's pets, the primary reason for the Mastermind to exist in the form that they do.

I mean, it's not FUN for the Player to have their primary focus of power generation to be relegated to the "Do Not Use" bin simply because their pets become a liability rather than an asset.
How many Masterminds were told to dismiss their pets in order to face off against Imperious in the ITF because of the liability they became as one of the Nictus Essence would cast Twilight Grasp and heal Imperious based on how many $Targets the Twilight Grasp hit (so having your pets out as a Mastermind enabled more healing for Imperious).

Those that can't adapt ... get left behind.
And in the competitive world of power advantages sought after in Power Fantasy games like World of Warcraft and City of Heroes ... if your powers don't suit the situation, YOU (and your build) get left behind.
Doesn't matter if your character build works fine in 99% of the game ... if it won't work all that great in the 1% of the game that Players care about "right now" when it is time to form a pickup group to do something "difficult" ... like a raid, or a task force.

The best counter to this problem, of course, is (super) Sidekicking which makes more of the game relevant than just merely the "endgame" content.


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

I would posit that the key insight is that if you make your "end game" content a significantly different environment than then "leveling" content, you'll wind up with a bifurcation of your game environment that will act in a way that is long term detrimental.

Yeah, I think it all comes down to this.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

I would posit that the key insight is that if you make your "end game" content a significantly different environment than then "leveling" content, you'll wind up with a bifurcation of your game environment that will act in a way that is long term detrimental.

Yeah, I think it all comes down to this.

Agreed.
MWM Staff ... take heed.


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I quit Everquest when it

I quit Everquest when it seemed like the only content I could play was Raids. They released an expansion with new content - Raids at every level.
I fled WoW, when PvP Jerk-holes made it so that I could not sell, because they had taken over the town and killed all the NPCs. I complained to the CS and they said, "Hey, why can't you let them play the way they want to? Don't be a jerk!"

I sighed with pleasure when I got CoH and found the community welcoming and helpful.

Be Well!
Fireheart

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Interesting discussion. I’m

Interesting discussion. I’m not directly involved in our game design work, and don’t actually know much about what’s been thought of already, since I’m mostly buried in the more immediate issues of trying to get things working. So I’m coming at this discussion mostly from a player, not a dev, point of view.

I think there’s actually a bigger meta-problem behind all this: in order to sustain itself, an MMO game either needs to keep existing players mostly engaged, or keep bringing in new players to replace those who drop out. I don’t think the latter is very practical, so holding players’ engagement becomes the main meta-goal.

In game terms, this boils down to either 1) constantly creating a lot of new content, or 2) finding a way to keep players engaged in repeating existing content.

Developing content tends to require a lot of work, so there are only a few options: a) spend a lot of dev time and money, b) use program-generated content, or c) get players to make content. a) is probably not sustainable as a business model, unless I’ve missed something, though all MMOs do at least some amount of this, but it seems to be fairly minimal in most games. STO, for example seems to release one new “story” mission and one new raid per update, which they do roughly quarterly. So that’s a few hours of new content per quarter. b) would be stuff like the radio missions in CoX at the low end, and maybe something AI-generated at the high end. I’m not convinced that it’s possible to get compelling content this way, at least for now. c) has been tried, and it doesn’t seem to work well. I suspect that this is due to the fact that building good content is hard, and doing it for little to no reward just doesn’t result in anything that holds players’ interest. There may be some good stuff, but it gets buried in junk. In STO, the most successful user-generated content seemed to be geared toward accelerated grinding. STO eventually gave up on the user content system, I suspect partly because it was a pain maintaining the tools, and partly because it was used abusively. And also I don’t think it actually help player attention that much.

So what winds up happening is option 2): make the players reuse the same content *a lot*. So you get endgame “grind for raiding gear” raids that you have to do dozens of times to get a single reward you want. Or you get PvP, where the new game content is actually the evolving strategies of the other players.

Personally, I’m not a fan of PvP, since I have lousy reflexes, and winning is very timing-sensitive. It’s a perfectly valid game type, I just don’t play games where that’s the main feature.

So for a “story-style” MMO, the problem resolved to “How do we get players to enjoy replaying essentially the same content?” Gear-grinding endgame raids seems to be the WoW solution, but I’d strongly question the “enjoy” part there.

I don’t have a good answer to this question, myself. STO seems to be moving toward encouraging players to create and level new characters, and I like that notion, partly because I love creating characters. If the social aspects of the game are strong enough, that might work. (I don’t think STO has a strong social aspect, though.)

I know the MWM designers have thought about the problem a lot. I have some vague notions of what the thinking might be, but I don’t want to go into it here, at least partly because I’m not really clear on the details, and partly because it’s premature. I do know there’s a lot of lore planning quite a ways out; turning that into new content efficiently enough to keep people interested will be a challenge, of course.

Tech Team

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Iathor wrote:
Iathor wrote:

2) finding a way to keep players engaged in repeating existing content.

THIS is the real and true answer.
Content that is "evergreen" in practice.
If you're designing your game in such a way that content becomes obsolete BY DESIGN then you are just setting yourself up for needing to constantly create new content in order to keep and hold Player interest and attention.

There's a difference between wanting to "beat the game" by Doing All The Things™ ... at which point you run out of things to do ... and wanting to "play the game" to continue enjoying the fun of playing.

Ironically, this is one of the things that I think that Tabula Rasa did brilliantly with their Control Points game system, which was essentially a PvE "Fortress" setup involving a Capture The Flag motivation.

By default, the (hostile) NPCs had the advantage when it came to Control Points, whether the PCs were attacking one to capture it or defending one against capture by the PvE NPCs.
The most common ratio was 3 friendly NPCs versus 6-10 hostile NPCs per spawn group ... with the PCs forming the "critical difference" between those numbers.
So on their own, the friendly NPCs simply didn't have the numbers/firepower to capture (let alone, hold!) a Control Point by themselves. The friendly NPCs were outnumbered by at least 2 to 1, so on their own they would just lose.
This meant that by default, the Control Points would always(!) revert to being controlled by hostile NPCs.

However, if a PC (or a group of PCs) joined the battle for an attack or defense of a Control Point ... those PCs could "tip the balance" of the battle(s) and turn guaranteed losses into possible victories.
The participation of the PCs were absolutely determinative whether a Control Point could be captured ... and after it was captured, how long it could be defended (and at what cost).

Inside every Control Point there was an obvious "flag" monument that SOMEONE ... PC or NPC ... needed to interact with for 10 seconds without being interrupted in order to capture the Control Point.
When a Control Point was captured (either by friendlies or by hostiles), all damage to the structural elements of the Control Point would be repaired up to full (so the force field "gate" that had been disabled switched back on) and reinforcements of the capturing side would begin spawning in inside the walls of the Control Point "Fortress" so as to mop up any remaining enemies caught inside when the "gate" closed. The force field "gate" could be freely moved through by the side in control of the Control Point, but blocked enemies from passing through it until the "gate" had taken enough damage to drop the force field ... at which point enemies SWARMED through the (now) open "gate" into the "Fortress" and the terrain of the battle changed (from outside to inside).

It was HELLA FUN TO PLAY.
Battles around Control Points where just thrilling!
"I've always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds!"

That was how Control Points played in the game.
No matter which side you were playing on (attacker or defender), the PCs and their friendly NPC allies were ALWAYS the underdogs, because the enemy always had the benefit of numbers (kind of like how 3 Minions equals 1 Hero, no?).
Control Points were SO FUN to play that people would engage them even if there was no direct reward for doing so simply because Control Points were a Target Rich Environment™ that created all kinds of Scrapperlock thrills simply through sheer gameplay.

You had an objective ... either to capture the flag if you were attacking, or defend the flag once you had captured the control point.
Your "side" of NPCs in the fight was ALWAYS outnumbered by at least 2 to 1, so it was up to the PCs to act intelligently and forge a path to victory. This meant that PC participation in these battles was ALWAYS the deciding factor in the outcome, and that felt ... GOOD.
The zone map always showed you which Control Points (there were 3-5 per zone) where controlled by which faction (red or blue, red was hostile, blue was friendly).

Sometimes you could just be passing by near a Control Point ... see (or hear) that there was a battle going on there and feeling like a hero (or a villain) you spontaneously on the spot decide to join in and Make A Difference in how THIS battle was going to play out.
Sometimes you would be successful.
Sometimes the ebb and flow of the tide of battle would flow against you and you would be repulsed.
Sometimes other PCs would come wandering by and spontaneously decide to join the fight.
It was all just World PvE ... AND IT WAS **FUN**!

There were some interesting dynamic game balance factors involved with how Control Points worked in Tabula Rasa ... such as the fact that friendly NPCs always spawned in groups of 3, never more (there's that 3 Minions = 1 Hero principle at work again) which would either be 3 random infantry or 1 mecha (which was supposedly balanced to equal 3 infantry NPCs).

Hostile NPCs spawned in groups of 5 (base) ... +1 NPC per group spawn per PC in the local area ... meaning the more PCs joined into the battle, the stiffer the resistance.
So if 1 PC was in the area, hostile NPC groups spawned with 6 NPCs per spawn group instead of just 5.
If 2 PCs were in the area, hostile NPC groups spawned with 7 NPCs per spawn group instead of just 5.
... and so on and so forth ... meaning the more PCs joined the fight, the tougher the fight got because the Target Rich Environment increased the number of $Targets in that environment.
And since the modification only applied to NEW groups being spawned, when additional PCs entered the fight the effect on the increase in the "stiffness" of the resistance being faced didn't kick in immediately, but instead escalated over time as reinforcements spawned in over time. So when a PC joined the fight you could make some headway for a time, before meeting the stiffer resistance of increasing numbers of enemies.

If the Control Point had been captured by friendly forces (either by a PC or a friendly NPC) then there would be a pause of about a minute or two, allowing reinforcements to spawn in and mop up operations to be completed, before hostile NPCs started spawning in groups outside to attack the Control Point and recapture it.

The brilliant thing that Tabula Rasa did was to incrementally increase the difficulty the longer the PC and friendly allies held out against attacking hostiles.
So hostile NPCs would spawn in outside the "Fortress" of the Control Point and attack, and now it was the task of the PCs to defend.
However, the attacking hostile NPCs did not spawn in continuously in an unending stream, but rather they would come in waves ... and there would be "lulls" in between some of the attacking waves, to give the defenders a chance to regroup and respawn some of their fallen troops ... and then the next wave of attackers would spawn in. Except, after one of these "lulls" in being attacked, the NEXT group of attackers would increment up the number of hostile NPCs per spawn group by +1 more.

This meant that in effect, it was IMPOSSIBLE to hold a Control Point forever, simply because the longer you held out, the more numerous (and ferocious) the attackers became.

Lin Chiao Feng and I would play Tabula Rasa together and I think a few times we managed to hold a Control Point until like the 5th or 6th attacking wave, when each spawn group would be spawning in with like A DOZEN NPCs per spawn group ... and the screen would just be FILLED with a rampaging mob of enemies.
One time we both took up a sniper position at a Control Point and held it long enough (just the 2 of us) that when the final wave landed outside, there were like 6 drop ships landing a dozen NPCs each and it was just like an OCEAN OF RED outside the "Fortress" wall of the Control Point ... and we just didn't have the firepower between the two of us to hold them all off. The force field "gate" went down in like 20 seconds when the ZERG PILE threw itself against the force field and then just POURED into the Control Point compound like a flood of angry (hairless) cats ... and Lin and I had to retreat outside to avoid being overrun and killed.

IT WAS GLORIOUS.

This is why I keep bringing up the brilliant design of Control Points as open world PvE content that remains "evergreen" and always interesting to engage in and play, simply because they're so FUN to play in a way that promotes the finest aspects of Scrapperlock.

It's also why I keep trying to urge MWM to consider development of Control Points as an exciting open world PvEvP element (Player vs Environment vs Player) in which Players don't attack each other directly, but they can attack "opposing factions" of NPCs in order to determine the outcome of a Control Point battle where the objective is to Capture The Flag of the Control Point and the PCs get to "pick a side" in the battle and join it to support the NPCs waging the fight. At which point, Faction Reputation with various factions can come into play (need to have enough reputation with an NPC faction to ally with that faction in a Control Point battle) and you can start building a kind of "round robin" system of Control Point battles where it isn't merely Red vs Blue ... but could be Rooks vs Weird Sisters vs Tyrosine vs Citizens Alliance vs The Unforgiven (for example) ... with 1 faction holding the Control Point at any one time and any of the other factions deciding to attack it "every so often" in the hopes of recruiting a PC to join their cause and secure control of a piece of Titan City (for a while, anyway).

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase Neighborhood Watch ... wouldn't you say?


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We have been over this before

We have been over this before but the PVEVP won’t be happening in this game.

There are a myriad of reasons for this. And while TR was fun their system was also flawed. It also moves away from many design features we are setting up so much so that the work involved to create and balance areas like this are far beyond what we are capable of doing in a reasonable time frame. It’s ultimate result is basically a fortress defense game in which nothing really changes that keeps players engaged in the world. I will not kick at this dead horse again after this above statement.

Truth is, it is next to impossible to keep players engaged in theme park designed games. There is an entire genre that is far different, sand box games. Players chew through content in theme park games far too quickly for new content to be developed that matched their pace of play.

We do have a (slow) way of adding new content to the game in our Path system. Which will eventually also lead into us adding a method for changing one’s Renown which can be used for players who want to do something different with their older characters.

Another system we will eventually (hopefully) add to the game will likely keep players far more engaged is our version of user-generated content. Where players will be able to create content that gets added to the game world itself. This has far more potential for player engagement for those who create content and for players looking for new / different content.


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I loved the user generated

I loved the user generated content of CoX! Some of those stories were absolutely amazing, some were hilarious and some were just plain silly, but I almost always enjoyed them.

It was obvious when one came across a mission built just for farming. I'm pretty sure some design restrictions could be put into place to prevent tipping the scales that far. An experience rewarded vs. time of completion metric can be kept, for example; and any mission that runs above a certain threshold after so many plays is declared a "farming" mission, taken off the active list, and a message is sent to the creator to re-adjust it. Another potential mission architect feature would be to analyze all the opponents in the mission to make sure that only a certain percentage are vulnerable to the same type of damage and only a certain percentage attack with the same type of damage. The same could be said about vulnerabilities to control effects. All to prevent missions from being built to give specific builds an unfair advantage.

I remember one mission in CoX that was nearly impossible for anyone but a fire spec. The absolute numbers of enemies that spawned were ridiculous, especially when played at extreme difficulty. But I remember a fire tank asking my fire/fire scrapper to play it with him, We wiped it clean without much of a problem. He wanted to keep going back to use it for fast leveling, and while I went with him one more time, I eventually was able to resist the temptation to keep going back. It just seemed too much like cheating to me at the time. And that was just the fire-based mission. I'm sure there were other missions that existed in much the same manner for the entire spectrum of vulnerabilities and defenses. An algorithm in the mission architect that looks for such imbalances in damage types and vulnerabilities could go a long way towards preventing abuse.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

We have been over this before but the PVEVP won’t be happening in this game.

There are a myriad of reasons for this. And while TR was fun their system was also flawed. It also moves away from many design features we are setting up so much so that the work involved to create and balance areas like this are far beyond what we are capable of doing in a reasonable time frame. It’s ultimate result is basically a fortress defense game in which nothing really changes that keeps players engaged in the world. I will not kick at this dead horse again after this above statement.

Tannim222 wrote:

Truth is, it is next to impossible to keep players engaged in theme park designed games. There is an entire genre that is far different, sand box games. Players chew through content in theme park games far too quickly for new content to be developed that matched their pace of play.

This is true.
It is FAR easier to consume, than it is to create.
Ask any chef how long it takes to create a dish versus how long it takes to devour one.
Or better yet ... ask any child how long it takes to stomp on a sand castle versus how long it takes to build one.

Tannim222 wrote:

We do have a (slow) way of adding new content to the game in our Path system. Which will eventually also lead into us adding a method for changing one’s Renown which can be used for players who want to do something different with their older characters.

Sounds vague.
Like, vague beyond the point of usefulness.
Worse, it doesn't sound all that exciting or fun ... more like yet another way to "do chores" in game.

Tannim222 wrote:

Another system we will eventually (hopefully) add to the game will likely keep players far more engaged is our version of user-generated content. Where players will be able to create content that gets added to the game world itself. This has far more potential for player engagement for those who create content and for players looking for new / different content.

Riiiiight ...
Somehow this sounds way more complicated than an open world Capture The Flag system that essentially anyone is welcome to join in at any time for any reason (including just passing by in the neighborhood) ... but hey, you seem personally invested in dumping on the idea of a Capture The Flag open world event every time it gets brought up so ... yay?


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

Inside every Control Point there was an obvious "flag" monument that SOMEONE ... PC or NPC ... needed to interact with for 10 seconds without being interrupted in order to capture the Control Point.


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

We do have a (slow) way of adding new content to the game in our Path system. Which will eventually also lead into us adding a method for changing one’s Renown which can be used for players who want to do something different with their older characters.

Sounds vague.
Like, vague beyond the point of usefulness.
Worse, it doesn't sound all that exciting or fun ... more like yet another way to "do chores" in game.

Sorry, didn't mean for this to sound so boringly vague. Paths are a story-based system that is thematic with a Renown. The game is launching with 2 with another 2 slated for post-launch when we expand the second-half of the game and game world. But there isn't a limit on how many types of stories we can tell through a Path there can be multiple Paths (stories) for each Renown.


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And, being able to repeat

And, being able to repeat some content without having to create a whole new character is a fine way of keeping players involved. Better still, to play through content that was missed the first time through. Ouroboros was good for that.

Be Well!
Fireheart

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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

And, being able to repeat some content without having to create a whole new character is a fine way of keeping players involved. Better still, to play through content that was missed the first time through. Ouroboros was good for that.

Be Well!
Fireheart

Yeah I want to eventually add a system for that too.


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Iathor wrote:
Iathor wrote:

2) finding a way to keep players engaged in repeating existing content.

Personally I think a piece to this puzzle is to avoid breaking down zones strictly by level. That is to say, the game should provide reasons for higher level players to go to lower level zones, rather than sticking to the 50+ or whatever areas. Even if it's just to travel to a door mission, it adds a little something it adds a little something for higher level players to see the lower level players, and vice versa. Successfully implementing the reverse if obviously a little trickier.

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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:
Iathor wrote:

2) finding a way to keep players engaged in repeating existing content.

Personally I think a piece to this puzzle is to avoid breaking down zones strictly by level. That is to say, the game should provide reasons for higher level players to go to lower level zones, rather than sticking to the 50+ or whatever areas. Even if it's just to travel to a door mission, it adds a little something it adds a little something for higher level players to see the lower level players, and vice versa. Successfully implementing the reverse if obviously a little trickier.

+1


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In Elder Scrolls Online, full

In Elder Scrolls Online, full scaling is in effect at all times. A character can progress in the world along any quest path in any zone and the content will be challenging. The more advanced a character is, however, the more access they have to better abilities, morphed abilities and stronger enchantments, etc., so higher level characters will have an easier time in the starting zones nonetheless.

The upside is that all the content is available for all the players to consume. There isn't any "skipped" content or "out-leveled" content. Another upside is that newer players get a chance to see the higher level players' superior abilities in action. The downside is that players never really get the feeling of being all-powerful.

I have no clue how hard it must be for the developers to work out a scaling algorithm that feels balanced and fair; but In my opinion, I think it is worth it. I think it is especially worth the complexity when one considers that player consumption of existing content reaches nearly 100% this way. That's good value of developer time.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

I have no clue how hard it must be for the developers to work out a scaling algorithm that feels balanced and fair; but In my opinion, I think it is worth it. I think it is especially worth the complexity when one considers that player consumption of existing content reaches nearly 100% this way. That's good value of developer time

It isn’t too hard at all. You noted the upside. The down side is that the higher level / better equipped character is only marginally better than the lower level player (in general).

The low level character with 3 attack powers and the high level character with 6 attack powers and a bunch of protections have to result in nearly identical base loops of performance.

Look at it this way leveling is a linear progressive system. Level scaling the character to the max level of the game at all times like ESO takes that linear progression and attempts to stretch out the “line” so it is nearly flat. While as you noted there are positives, the negative is, as I noted above.

Now there is another possible ways to resolve this. GW2 scaling the character to the level of the area is one. Both good and bad things exist about this too.

There is another way, but it is far, far more difficult to pull off - especially in a multiplayer game. That is taking a horizontal progression approach where the game applies progressive mechanics.

The enemies and encounters become more difficult and the methods for overcoming these mechanics is found in the horizontal growth of what your character is capable of doing.


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Farmers are a good sized

Farmers are a good sized portion of your playerbase. do you really want to get rid of them? You want to have players redo the same content over and over but not farm? whats the difference. We all have our own definition of "fun" You dont like farms, I dont like mary sue story meltdowns. To each his own. Look at wow, you need 5k gold to buy NR flying. it takes me 3 or 4 months to farm that up.I like play alts, so that is a non starter for me. one token later, I can set up a dozen characters. I like the wow world, not the wow grind and definitely not the raids. I raided in swotor and I loved tfs in COH. Both were different from the job that is wow raiding. Let people play how they want to play, it will all work out in the end. Dont make items so rare that 99.9% never see them. Swotor had items that I never saw in 7 years of playing 4 to 7 hours a night. They might as well not exist.

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Swtor put that in place. and

Swtor put that in place. and lost a lot of players. If you never progress in power, why bother progressing? I know that would kill this game for me.

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Iathor wrote:
Iathor wrote:

So what winds up happening is option 2): make the players reuse the same content *a lot*. So you get endgame “grind for raiding gear” raids that you have to do dozens of times to get a single reward you want. Or you get PvP, where the new game content is actually the evolving strategies of the other players.
...
So for a “story-style” MMO, the problem resolved to “How do we get players to enjoy replaying essentially the same content?” Gear-grinding endgame raids seems to be the WoW solution, but I’d strongly question the “enjoy” part there.

I'd say the solution is to encourage alting, which can be enhanced by two things: (1) provide parallel paths to max so that each alt doesn't end up doing the same mishs (*cough*MercyIsland*cough*) and (2) provide a steady stream of new power sets that work in multiple combinations with other power sets so that each playthrough feels different. Character classes that play quite differently from one another help here as well. This strategy encourages re-use of all the content, not just the grinding of specific bits.

Spurn all ye kindle.

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This is where the "level vs

This is where the "level vs level-less" argument of planned obsolescence can come into play.

15-20 years ago (meaning CoH and WoW early development days) ... the entire paradigm for MMORPG content creation was an "up and out" model, where PCs plow through content in a specific zone, leveling up along the way, until they outlevel the zone and its challenges and then move on to a new zone and its new challenges. Part of the appeal of this type up "up and out" model is that it "mobilized" the Players to circulate around the game environment, particularly in the sense of sending PCs to different zones (so travel becomes important and also a time sink when playing) in a kind of "start local before becoming global" sort of quest/mission design aesthetic. That way, as the PCs increase in levels, gear and XP they need to start ranging further and further afield to new and different locations in a way that allows the Player experience of that world to expand and grow somewhat organically.

The problem with this paradigm is the Planned Obsolescence factor.
Once you outlevel the challenges within a particular zone, you stop caring about it.
Familiarity breeds contempt after all, and once the challenges (read: hostile NPCs) stop paying attention to the PC (so the Player doesn't have to worry or care about them) then a lower level zone becomes "empty" of challenges to worry about and the Player can (safely) stop caring about that entire zone of the game ... aside from how to navigate around it. If the NPCs won't attack you for getting too close to them (like what happened in CoX) then the NPCs in a zone just become safe to ignore scenery, increasing the Planned Obsolescence factor.

There are a few ways around this particular problem of Planned Obsolescence, but the game designers have to actively work to make "old zones relevant again" under a variety of different circumstances.
The easiest way to accomplish this is (super)Sidekicking/Mentoring so as to "push" the PC into a level range where the content of the zone is NOT something that can be (safely) ignored.
This is a "modify the PC to match the zone" style of solution.
A slightly more complex way to accomplish this is to dynamically scale the NPCs to match PCs when they engage PCs, creating a sort of "level-less until combat starts" kind of game dynamic.
This is a "modify the NPCs to match the PCs they're in combat with" style of solution.

Modifying the PC to match the zone, as a solution, often times involves imposing level limit caps on PCs while within that specific zone (so max level 20 while in Skyway City, for example). Depending on a lot of subsidiary interacting factors involving performance at different level breakpoints, this kind of One Size Fits All solution has the potential to be extremely unsatisfying due to the disabling of character power synergies obtained at higher levels. Such a "limit the PC to the zone" solution risks imposing very specific breakpoints in build performance that the game meta will strictly observe which Players may decide are too constraining on how they want to play their PCs, leading to some zones being shunned for precisely that level cap imposition.

Modifying the NPCs to match the PCs when the NPCs engage with the PCs however, is a much more flexible and fluid system that imposes no such level caps on either PC or Player, while keeping the contents of "old zones" still relevant to the playing experience. The way the system works is that NPCs are "level-less" until engaged (either the PC attacks them or the NPCs aggro onto the PC), at which point the level of the NPC is determined (relative to the PC involved) and combat proceeds from there. If the NPCs defeat the PC, once combat status drops the NPCs return to their "level-less" state (so someone else of a different character level can come along and clobber them). This system of allowing the NPCs to "meet the moment" when engaging a PC then permits a dynamic in which ALL zones within a game remain "evergreen" because none of the zones ever become truly obsolete ... and ALL zones in the game can have new content created for them (quests, missions, street sweeping, etc.) in subsequent content update patches, such that Players are never well and truly "done" with a zone because they never really "outlevel" the content available within that zone (and the content can be added to in ways that are relevant to everyone, not just a single segment of the leveling population).

The problem is that the "modify the PC to fit the zone" is an easier lift, game design and game mechanically speaking, than the alternative of "modifying the NPCs to fit the PCs they engage" as a game design model.
The former starts with NPCs having defined level ranges that is fixed which they spawn within.
The latter starts with the assumption that NPCs don't have a level assigned to them until combat begins ... a VERY different proposition, and one that is almost impossible to retrofit onto a game after it has been built (the amount of dev work involved in converting is prohibitive).

However, the "modify the NPCs to match the PCs" model has the advantage of allowing PCs to progress in power and feel that progress in power through their increasing quantity of options (powers) and customization (augments/refinements slotted in) without having the results of the leveling process "taken away" from them when the PC moves into a new zone with a level cap imposing itself onto the PC simply because of WHERE the PC is in the game. It also means that as the PC advances in power, the NPCs "get tougher" too ... albeit perhaps not as quickly as the PC does, so the PC feels like leveling up allows them to "get ahead" of their NPC opponents without leaving the NPCs completely behind in their wake in a Planned Obsolescence paradigm.

Needless to say, I'm of the personal opinion that using a "modify the NPCs to match the PCs" style of keeping the NPCs level-less until engaged in combat paradigm of game design is something that can only be done when building a game from the ground up, since it's best to build it in from the start rather than trying to go back and modify everything later after the fact ... while also being the superior paradigm for helping a game remain "evergreen" in its content opportunities in which no part of the game's content becomes obsolete BY DESIGN. If PCs cannot "outlevel" a zone, then the content of that zone doesn't become obsolete until it is "finished" by the Player (and with Flashback capability, not even then, really). Also, a "level-less until engaged" paradigm makes it easier to balance ranges of PC power levels against NPCs in group contexts, where the group "level" can be set by the Team Leader and then that is the level that everyone on the Team engages the content at.

Which is a long winded way of saying that I have my own opinions on this subject, and that structural changes to the game design on one side of the ledger are not necessarily symmetrical to the same game design changes on the other side.
There's a sort of ... chirality ... to these game design choices that yield asymmetrical outcomes on the gameplay experience, because six left hands do not equal half a dozen right hands (or words to that effect), and the choice has profound implications for questions as simple as "what is endgame in this game?" along with evergreen versus planned obsolescence in the game design starting at the beginning and extending all the way to the end.


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Why does my character have to

Why does my character have to be concerned about threats in a level 10 zone? In swtor they made it so my max level Darth, a member of the dark council, was threatened by level 10 vermin. really?? would superman need to somehow be threatened by low level street gang members? One of the often repeated complaints about AE was that people met players that didnt know how to get to higher level zones. Why have more than 1 zone if people can just level to max in the starting zone? why bother make the rest of the map? The reason to have people outlevel zones is to move them through the game doing missions in different zones as they gain power. Oro gave us the ability to so back and do those missions Mentored down to their level, the game doesnt need to be kneecapped to accomplish this.

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I'm going to be as gentle as

I'm going to be as gentle as I can with my responses.

ivanhedgehog wrote:

Why does my character have to be concerned about threats in a level 10 zone? In swtor they made it so my max level Darth, a member of the dark council, was threatened by level 10 vermin. really??

Because if there are no threats then the zone becomes "dead" to you.
It's just scenery to travel through ... nothing to worry about here.
Planned Obsolescence.

The level 10 zone becomes obsolete when you outlevel it.
That means the game's developers and creators have to create WHOLE NEW ZONES to keep you entertained and engaged (an expensive and time consuming process!) rather than allowing old zones to remain "evergreen" and relevant to gameplay at all times.
It has been demonstrated REPEATEDLY that Players can devour content updates hundreds of times faster (if not thousands of times faster, or even more than that) than a company can create new content.
3000 man-hours of development ... finished by Players within 2 hours after release (followed by disappointed complaints and postings of "is that all?").
No matter how you slice it, that kind of development cycle will NEVER catch up to how fast Players can devour newly created content.

I really shouldn't have to explain this.

ivanhedgehog wrote:

would superman need to somehow be threatened by low level street gang members?

This is both the wrong question and the wrong framing of the question.

ONE.
Superman is "Mr. Invulnerable Star God" with all of his powers.
Cue World of Cardboard speech.

From a game balance perspective, that is CHEAT CODE levels of power difference.
Superman takes NO DAMAGE from low level street thugs (by definition).
Superman ONE SHOT KILLS low level street thugs (if he doesn't pull his punches, by definition).
Game Balance = RIDICULOUSLY BROKEN.

TWO.
Superman is "Mr. Squishy" in the presence of Kryptonite, because it negates his power advantage.
From a game balance perspective, that is still CHEAT CODE levels of power difference (where the cheat codes get turned OFF).
Superman takes FULL DAMAGE from low level street thugs (because: Kryptonite) who can kill him with guns, bombs, blades and even baseball bats.
Superman CAN'T HURT low level street thugs due to his loss of powers (because: Kryptonite) although he can use the same kinds of weapons a normal human can (so guns, bombs, blades and even baseball bats, albeit wielded by a wimp who feels like crap).
Game Balance = RIDICULOUSLY BROKEN.

A better comparison would have been Batman, who is "powerful" enough to not be "threatened" by lowlife street thugs but can still take damage from them (meaning Batman wins the fight, but maybe took some damage in the process).
An alternative would be a martial arts film, where the hero main character is SO GOOD at their martial arts that they NEVER GET HIT by anyone or anything. They're so stupidly overpowered that there is No Contest involved in any fight they participate in. There is no GAME BALANCE to be found whatsoever ... and with no balance, there is no contest. No contest, no stakes ... meaning no fun (an example of this is One Punch Man) except when played for laughs (again, One Punch Man).

Imagine a Robin Hood film where the soldiers at the command of the Sheriff of Nottingham IGNORE Robin Hood obviously walking right past them (or even emoting in their faces) ... simply because Robin Hood is "too high level" for them to attack (or notice).
Sure, the grunt soldiers are just the low level Minions who aren't supposed to "win" against Robin Hood ... but if they ignore his obvious presence among them (no disguise, he just strolls on by in front of them whistling his theme song) ... then that's going to make for a really boring movie (unless it's a pure comedy version), wouldn't you say?
The same principle applies in videogames.

Again ... I shouldn't have to explain this to anyone who is serious about knowing what makes a game good and what makes a game fun to play.

ivanhedgehog wrote:

Why have more than 1 zone if people can just level to max in the starting zone? why bother make the rest of the map?


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ivanhedgehog wrote:
ivanhedgehog wrote:

Why does my character have to be concerned about threats in a level 10 zone? In swtor they made it so my max level Darth, a member of the dark council, was threatened by level 10 vermin. really?? would superman need to somehow be threatened by low level street gang members?

First, I'd like you to go into your nearest city and find the neighborhood populated with level 10 people and the neghborhood populated with the level 20 people. You can't because cities are not stratified that way. Rather, low level people are the young and inexperienced and can be found everywhere. Likewise, higher level people are the people with more skills, talent and experience and should also be in every zone. By making every neighborhood on par with the player's challenge rating, they make it so our characters can stomp their way through the low level rabble in EVERY zone, while being challenged by the higher level threats like lieutenants and bosses, in every zone.
Second, Superman was never really challenged by any opponent anywhere, except perhaps some uber-threats like Doomsday. In the game, such threats would be unique bosses. No, the challenge to Superman has always been in making the correct CHOICES. So to answer your question: No, Superman would not be threatened by low level street gang members in ANY zone, regardless of "level."
Another way to look at it is that our characters may increase in skills and talents and access to cooler gear and allies, but the nature of our character is the same on day one as it is six years later. A knife in the back will be as painful (or not, according to our personal head canon) on our first day in the city as it would be after we've joined the Avengers. Is there anything about Hawkeye or Black Widow that changed between the start of their careers and the end that made them less vulnerable to harm? Was Thor more vulnerable to puny humans the day he descended from Asgard than he was later? Negative. In a game like City of Titans, how would you take into account that our characters ultimate nuke ability only wounds the trash mobs of one area while it totally obliterates even the bosses of another?

In my opinion, a character's nuke ability should be just as devastating to the trash mobs in every zone.

I understand your point of view, ivanhedgehog. I really do. It is in the very DNA of the RPG part of MMORPG. In an RPG, a character increases in level and power. But the downfall of RPG, especially RPG computer games, is so do the opponents. Everything from the local wildlife to the trash mobs also levels up with the character in each new zone. So you never really get that power rush UNLESS you go visit low level areas to face low level opponents. But the medium of computers allows us to transcend the limitations of the pen-and-paper roots of table top RPGs. The ten rats in the basement should be a weak and easy challenge for everyone. There's no reason to make them lethal to a level 1 noob. Likewise, the Mob's number one super-powered hitman should be a lethal challenge for everyone as well, and not just the level 1 noob.

So the REAL problem with your argument is that in order to keep you challenged and playing the game, your character is always adventuring in zones that are scaled to provide a challenge. Therefore, since the game is increasing the level of the zones your character adventures in ANYWAY, why should the game include a built-in obsolescence in all its previous zones? Let me use your own words here: the game doesn't need to kneecap itself like this. CoX included ouroboros in order to RECAPTURE value from old content after the fact. It would make more sense from a game design perspective that every zone levels up to remain on par with the character, enabling all stories, quests and content to REMAIN VIABLE to the gamers without having to resort to a mechanic like ouroboros to achieve it.

City of Heroes and City of Villains were unique among all MMORPG in that they flipped the power equation upside down. In traditional MMORPG (especially in dungeons and raids) it takes several characters to overcome a single opponent. In CoX it takes several opponents to overcome a single character. THAT is the source of our Superman and Darth Vader power trips. And if you want to increase the difficulty, the game would be happy to throw even more mobs at you for an even greater power trip.

ivanhedgehog wrote:

Why have more than 1 zone if people can just level to max in the starting zone? why bother make the rest of the map?

Why indeed! Wouldn't that be awesome if there was enough story and mission content in a single zone for us to level completely in it!? Talk about replay value, I could level different characters in different zones all depending upon the look and feel of the zones and the nature of the opponents we face there. That would be the best game world ever! A character really could become the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. But in reality, there will probably never be that much content written for the game.

ivanhedgehog wrote:

One of the often repeated complaints about AE was that people met players that didnt know how to get to higher level zones....

This is a very real concern and I agree with you. I think AE was more perfidious in that it also made the game less social since it pulled people off the city streets where players could interact with each other. I would recommend that any character wanting to make use of User Generated Content (UGC) should have to farm reputation for it, or meet a minimum level threshold to access it or some other such method to ensure characters experience the rest of the city and add their avatars to the multitudes galavanting about before they go down the UGC rabbit hole. Another solution might be to somehow add UGC to the game world. By this I mean when you select a UGC mission to run, you do so from an in-game menu not from any building. Once selected, you have to travel to your NPC mission giver somewhere in the city and go to a mission door in the city.

[edit: ha ha ha, it looks like Redlynne and I were crafting our responses simultaneously. Bastard beat me to it. Damn those earlier time zones.]


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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People talk about immersion

People talk about immersion breaking things in games and for me, this auto-leveling of the world to my level is just that. This street trash i fight at level one is now street trash still but now level 50? I understand there is no perfect way but I really dislike that way of doing it.

Compulsively clicking the refresh button until the next update.

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Dark Cleric wrote:
Dark Cleric wrote:

People talk about immersion breaking things in games and for me, this auto-leveling of the world to my level is just that. This street trash i fight at level one is now street trash still but now level 50? I understand there is no perfect way but I really dislike that way of doing it.

The part I don't get is that the street trash in level 50 zones is stronger than the bosses you faced at lower levels. That is more immersion breaking to me. I suppose it's all how we look at it.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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One way to look at “street

One way to look at “street level trash” at a 50 level zone being tougher than “a boss” from a lower Evelyn zone, can be accounting for the higher levels being more equipped, better skilled, etc.

Kind of like the tough kid on the kindergarten playground isn’t going to match up t your typical kid in high school.

It’s one way to look at it anyway.

With regards to UCG, the current plan for when it is implemented is that the UCG will not offer full rewards and experience finishing returns for published UCG that has begun.

That is, you can’t start the UCG, exit before completion, and restart it at the full-UCG-rate that you are currently at.

We want to have some form of vetting process with player feedback that allows for some way of UCG getting promoted where it can have things like full reward status for the first run, or doesn’t count toward UCG finishing returns.


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AE got blamed for a lot in

AE got blamed for a lot in TOG that it was not responsible for. People will play how they want too, trying to herd them to play "the right way" will backfire badly. I knew people that farmed all the time and had a great time doing it. I did 2 or 3 tfs a night and had fun.kneecapping game modes will not turn out good for anyone.

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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

One way to look at “street level trash” at a 50 level zone being tougher than “a boss” from a lower Evelyn zone, can be accounting for the higher levels being more equipped, better skilled, etc.

Kind of like the tough kid on the kindergarten playground isn’t going to match up t your typical kid in high school.

It’s one way to look at it anyway.

I would look at it that way if the street trash in higher level areas actually was better skilled and equipped. The story of The Lost from CoX is a good example. At lower levels we only experience their less powerful members, but as the game progresses their story unfolds and we see them becoming more and more mutated until eventually we face the fully evolved [REDACTED].
Using an auto-level feature would mean that the lower level human dregs would be on par with the lower level [REDACTED] as far as the challenge they pose to the character. I certainly understand, and in fact subscribe to, the sentiment that would not be a desirable scenario. In an auto-leveled game, the only way to make the higher levels of story content like this feel more powerful would be to reserve them for raid content. Whether or not raids can or should be used to continue existing stories is a discussion for another thread.

HOWEVER, the story of The Lost is the exception that proves the rule. The VAST majority of other experiences in the MMORPG experience do not follow such a story.

If the game lore is such that there is a real reason to expect the threats of higher level opponents exceed the threats posed by lower level opponents, then you will find no argument from me for making lower level zones obsolete. But if the only difference between the opponents in one zone and the opponents in another is the numbers they put out, then I say why? Why should the game intentionally make some zones obsolete when they could keep them relevant?

I would think that in an all-volunteer effort, MWM would want to make the most use of their created content as possible.

Whether the zones auto-level or they don't, either way some suspension of disbelief must occur:
- Auto-level: Suspend the disbelief that The Lost pose as much of a threat as [REDACTED].
- Level-progression: Suspend the disbelief that street trash of higher levels is more powerful than even the bosses at lower levels.
It would seem to me that neither is 100% acceptable and MWM will have to make a choice which way to proceed.

One more thing: (I think this is important)
If CoT is going to capitalize on horizontal progression rather than vertical powering, then it seems self-defeating to design the city's zones around a vertical leveling paradigm.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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The majority of the game is

The majority of the game is designed around vertical progression. We have some systems - like our travel system which can be viewed as horizontal progression.

There is a reason most MMORPGs use progressive -linear advancement: it is easier to do. It is familiar. And most are comfortable using it from both a design and player perspective.

As I said earlier, auto-scaling a linear perforation system takes that line and tries to “stretch it out” to make it as “flat” as possible.

We do t have many factions that span across all levels of play. But one of the things I”’m striving to do with the design of NPCs that span wide level ranges is to incorporate progressive powers and mechanics.

That is as the enemies increase in level, so do what they can access as far as powers. Some may even eschew a lower level power like a basic melee attack in favor in using an improved power.

If I could have “my way”, O do away with levels altogether, creating a reward system based on completing tasks, making content more “plot / story” driven and every thing a player can do to improve their character would come from the points earned.

Every area of imeoenrt would have built in benefits and disadvantages. And the progression of difficulty would be solely found in regressive mechanics.

But I need to work within my bounds and the scope of this project. So while the progression is linear vertically, I’ve leaned into a form of progressive mechanics.


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Kind of late to the party,

Kind of late to the party, but my own two cents is that TOG did a good job with the different power levels of mobs in Arachnos city. Even the boss skulls and hellions in Mercy and Port Oakes would rightly tremble before the archnos soldiers and robots patrolling the upper levels or the Arachnids and agents in the slums. I know it didn't carry through in all the areas, but changing the denizens does allow boasting the power of the mobs to challenge the character. It didn't stop my stalker from ghosting through regions where he didn't dare unstealth (for exploration badges) or prevent me from having fun hunting mobs in low power areas (also for badges).

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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

The majority of the game is designed around vertical progression. We have some systems - like our travel system which can be viewed as horizontal progression.

But I need to work within my bounds and the scope of this project. So while the progression is linear vertically, I’ve leaned into a form of progressive mechanics.

I think this is the first we've heard this, at least definitively.

Here's something from 2015 on the subject of a level cap:

Tannim222 wrote:

While both internally, here on the forums, and other sources run the gambit on high end advancement, many opinions have leaned toward favoring horizontal improvement over constant vertical growth. Many of the common arguments include the following:

Vertical improvement can lead to further emptying of zones for what amounts to brief periods of time. Players tend to chew new content quickly.
Most gains that rely on cap raising are gear driven, and some use both gear and stat driven , and some of those stat driven are sand box(esque) horizontal-vertical mish-mash.
It can also wreak havoc on economies by introducing newer gear causing a cascading effect on item valuations, game cash earnings per character at the new cap,

Given our game is less stat driven and less [g]ear dependent than the typical level-gear-stat-driven models, suggesting, much less than implementing level cap increases is not to be done lightly.
Even so, as I've mention, the level design is modular. We would have add to our power set frameworks but the design of that is also modular.
As would any horizontal growth systems we would implement would also be.

and:

ConundrumofFurballs wrote:

There's more districts, there's more story, there's a lot of horizontal expansion to be done. There will be at least *some* vertical expansion post launch, but that's only part of the plan; there's way more horizontal expansion planned for than vertical, at least right now. Admittedly, I can only speak for the composition team, but boy do we have a lot for horizontal expansion...

But at the same time Warcabbit was saying things like:

warcabbit wrote:

Serious point about the level cap increases, folks. Firstly, of course, we're planning to have some really rapidly after launch - the plan is 30, going to 50 ASAP. We all know this, right? That doesn't really count as a level cap increase, that's just us seeing how the game works and frantically adjusting and rebalancing things before committing the final content to live.

But considering we're planning on treating this as your own hero's comic book, we've been talking about expanding level caps every couple years, in order to give you guys more space for advancement and more space for a personal story line.

Continuing on, this from 2017 about what end-game was going to be:

Tannim222 wrote:

At this time...roll another al[t]. Which will always be a possibility. Especially with the Path system, there is the potential for a different set of content to play through. With the Faction rep and tri-axis alignment system there is the potential to play through even the same content taking some divergent branches which weren’t experienced before.

But let’s take a look at end game progression mechanics for a moment to understand a couple of reasons for their design.

First we’ll look at the old game. With the level cap set at 50, the only option was to provide a method of horizontal progression, expanding what a character was capabale of doing. They also added in pseudo-levels which would have been necessary for later content.
...
The other possibility is increasing the level cap, typically with a new zone and raid piece associated with it. Adding some new capability and requiring new gear to be applied either due to old gear being out-levelled, or insufficient for the higher level content.

Comparing the two, you can understand why the first option was appealing to the development team. I can understand the reasoning and it is appealing to me given our current circumstances for our dev team. The future may provide us with other options. I can say we currently favor horizontal progression over increased caps. What shape th[a]t will t[a]ke, how the progression will be provided is far too early to tell.
...
We have ideas for it all, but it is far, far too soon to worry about it.

and this:

Doctor Tyche wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:
Lothic wrote:

... Thus if CoT is going to a Powers-based game like CoX was then you'll understand why it doesn't make much sense that you'd want to randomly raise the level cap in the future without major consequences. This should be a very convincing/logical argument against looking towards level cap increases as anything you'd want to mess with on a regular basis and again stresses why new schemes for horizontal progression ought to be promoted for CoT.

Lothic, you don't have to convince me. I'm in agreement. But I also don't call the shots for th[e]se t[y]pe of decisions. I can give my input, and will gladly point out the preference of our forum posters in this regard (as this isn't the first time this discussion has occurred either). There are others though that have mentioned their desire for increasing levels.
Again, there hasn't been made a definitive decision in this regard, but we've design the leveling system for the possibility.

Well, I'm in your corner here.

And that's about all any developer has said about horizontal versus vertical progression.
All other discussions on the subject have been just us fans talking among ourselves in an echo chamber to the point that we've convinced ourselves it is going to be horizontal progression.

So if you're certain that we will have increasing levels with each update as the end-game in a vertical progression, then this will be the first time anyone has stated this definitively.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

So if you're certain that we will have increasing levels with each update as the end-game in a vertical progression, then this will be the first time anyone has stated this definitively.

I didn't say vertical progression is intended for the end game here. I simply stated that or progression (read in general) is vertical. That is you start at level 1 and at launch can reach level 30. Post launch we plan to expand that to level 50.

Now, while our system can support additional levels, I'm personally against it. And if I have my way, we will never increase post 50. I'm still in favor of looking for ways to add horizontal progression for post level 50. Heck, if you look at our Rewards update, I've even built in a feature for removing the need for XP where players can exchange the xp rate from Glory and to increase other rates.


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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

So if you're certain that we will have increasing levels with each update as the end-game in a vertical progression, then this will be the first time anyone has stated this definitively.

I didn't say vertical progression is intended for the end game here. I simply stated that or progression (read in general) is vertical. That is you start at level 1 and at launch can reach level 30. Post launch we plan to expand that to level 50.

Now, while our system can support additional levels, I'm personally against it. And if I have my way, we will never increase post 50. I'm still in favor of looking for ways to add horizontal progression for post level 50. Heck, if you look at our Rewards update, I've even built in a feature for removing the need for XP where players can exchange the xp rate from Glory and to increase other rates.

Okay. Thanks. That's pretty consistent to everything we heard and thought we may have heard. Its nearly impossible to cite from discord, so I didn't;t even try to see if this is a topic that has been brought up there.

I forgot a downside to auto-leveled content I failed to mention earlier, by the way. It just occurred to me that one of the benefits of taking characters through the zones sequentially as they level up is that it clumps players together by level, providing a better possibility that players can find others who are willing to team up together. An auto-leveled gaming world would enable players to go wherever they want and it might get like herding cats to get them to cooperate on any one thing.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Well, we seem to have

Well, we seem to have wandered far from 'Real Money' issues.

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ivanhedgehog wrote:
ivanhedgehog wrote:

Why does my character have to be concerned about threats in a level 10 zone? In swtor they made it so my max level Darth, a member of the dark council, was threatened by level 10 vermin. really??

As Huckleberry mentioned, it's about how we look at it. In SWTOR, if I take my level 50 character to a lower level zone I never feel threatened. Yes, my character is now theoretically level 10 (or 12, or whatever) but all the higher level gear and abilities are still available to me. That character can wade through a bunch of level 10 enemies much more quickly than through level 50 enemies.

Perhaps the better question is why should my character - who is, as you point out, one of the most powerful Sith in the galaxy - be threatened by any vermin? Just because they have a '50' floating about them in the aether rather than a '10'? How does that make any sense?*

In any event, I certainly prefer this approach to the way TOG did it and usually broke my level 50 character if I tried to do lower level content.



* That's a rhetorical question, of course. I trust that the answer is sufficiently obvious.

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I have nothing against adding

I have nothing against adding an option if some players wish to be auto-adjusted to the level of a zone, but I'm with the folks who don't want to experience this because it takes away the feeling of progression -- which I'd argue is one of the cornerstones of a game like this.

Given that the level of a mission behind a door can be completely different from that of the area around it, I think Darth Fez's solution of just having higher level mission doors appear occasionally in lower level areas is the most elegant solution.

Spurn all ye kindle.

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Cinnder wrote:
Cinnder wrote:

I think Darth Fez's solution of just having higher level mission doors appear occasionally in lower level areas is the most elegant solution.

Please explain how that is any different from giving the PC a "free pass" to access the mission door.

"Oh look, I have to go to Atlas Park for a mission door, well nothing there is going to attack me, sooo..." {snore}


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Hey devs, I just spent an

Hey devs, I just spent an hour crafting a brilliant and insightful post that made a case for a position. But basically it all hinged upon our collective ignorance of what actually occurs to a player character when the character gains a level. Armed with this ignorance I could go no further and scrapped the whole thing.

Could you please provide a game update on what happens when a character levels up?

Here are some suggestions for its content:
What actually increases when a character increases in level?
- we know that a character gets access to more abilities.
- we know from this update that characters get more Reserve sockets
- will the number of augment and refinement slots increase with level?
- will there be some sort of leveling resource or 'skill point' that we get to assign to powers?
- does a character's resistance to control effects increase with level?
- are there other character stats that increase with level?
- etc., etc...

We know CoT won't have Gear per se, but we will have augments and refinements. And we know from this update that augments and refinements have levels. And since only low level augments can be equipped at lower levels, they are essentially equivalent to Gear. The only difference between them and Gear is that typically Gear affects a character's stats while augments and refinements affect the abilities directly.

We also know that characters get to develop masteries with level.

What don't we know that we don't even know?

I don't want an answer here in this thread, I think this is something that deserves a full public disclosure.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

Hey devs, I just spent an hour crafting a brilliant and insightful post that made a case for a position. But basically it all hinged upon our collective ignorance of what actually occurs to a player character when the character gains a level. Armed with this ignorance I could go no further and scrapped the whole thing.

Could you please provide a game update on what happens when a character levels up?

Here are some suggestions for its content:
What actually increases when a character increases in level?
- we know that a character gets access to more abilities.
- we know from this update that characters get more Reserve sockets
- will the number of augment and refinement slots increase with level?
- will there be some sort of leveling resource or 'skill point' that we get to assign to powers?
- does a character's resistance to control effects increase with level?
- are there other character stats that increase with level?
- etc., etc...

We know CoT won't have Gear per se, but we will have augments and refinements. And we know from this update that augments and refinements have levels. And since only low level augments can be equipped at lower levels, they are essentially equivalent to Gear. The only difference between them and Gear is that typically Gear affects a character's stats while augments and refinements affect the abilities directly.

We also know that characters get to develop masteries with level.

What don't we know that we don't even know?

I don't want an answer here in this thread, I think this is something that deserves a full public disclosure.

If there is enough interest I could do a write up.

I’m leery of submitting updates that are text only. Having art, gifs, or better yet, a video would be much better. Which is why I have been holding off writing further combat / game play updates.


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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

If there is enough interest I could do a write up.

It would drive engagement (and investment) on the topic.
Hard to see how that would be a Bad Thing™.

Tannim222 wrote:

I’m leery of submitting updates that are text only. Having art, gifs, or better yet, a video would be much better. Which is why I have been holding off writing further combat / game play updates.

Even a simple diagram showing how the pieces parts inter(re)act with one another so as to be able to visualize the systems meta would be helpful.
Playing Blind Man's Bluff around core game mechanics is no way to run the Paragon Transportation Authority (PTA).


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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

Could you please provide a game update on what happens when a character levels up?

Definitely a topic for another thread.


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

If there is enough interest I could do a write up.

It would drive engagement (and investment) on the topic.
Hard to see how that would be a Bad Thing™.

Tannim222 wrote:

I’m leery of submitting updates that are text only. Having art, gifs, or better yet, a video would be much better. Which is why I have been holding off writing further combat / game play updates.

Even a simple diagram showing how the pieces parts inter(re)act with one another so as to be able to visualize the systems meta would be helpful.
Playing Blind Man's Bluff around core game mechanics is no way to run the Paragon Transportation Authority (PTA).

Thing is, our updates go public and outside of our regulars who would be engaged in conversation, updates that are more “tell” than “show” aren’t tend to not go over as well making more of a hassle for our PR peeps.

I want to show and tell how the leveling system works if I can help it. Especially showing off crude diagrams and charts. It just looks like you are getting a boring math lesson back in school.


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Red Warlock
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

Hey devs, I just spent an hour crafting a brilliant and insightful post that made a case for a position. But basically it all hinged upon our collective ignorance of what actually occurs to a player character when the character gains a level. Armed with this ignorance I could go no further and scrapped the whole thing.

Could you please provide a game update on what happens when a character levels up?

Here are some suggestions for its content:
What actually increases when a character increases in level?
- we know that a character gets access to more abilities.
- we know from this update that characters get more Reserve sockets
- will the number of augment and refinement slots increase with level?
- will there be some sort of leveling resource or 'skill point' that we get to assign to powers?
- does a character's resistance to control effects increase with level?
- are there other character stats that increase with level?
- etc., etc...

We know CoT won't have Gear per se, but we will have augments and refinements. And we know from this update that augments and refinements have levels. And since only low level augments can be equipped at lower levels, they are essentially equivalent to Gear. The only difference between them and Gear is that typically Gear affects a character's stats while augments and refinements affect the abilities directly.

We also know that characters get to develop masteries with level.

What don't we know that we don't even know?

I don't want an answer here in this thread, I think this is something that deserves a full public disclosure.

Hey everyone,

since PR was mentioned here and I'm the staff lead on our updates in PR, I just wanted to say we think this would make for a great update and we would be happy to do it. If Tannim (the subject expert) is willing to write the content for an update, we'd be more than happy to work with him on one sometime...

Environmental Artist, PR Editor

Redlynne
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Red Warlock wrote:
Red Warlock wrote:

since PR was mentioned here and I'm the staff lead on our updates in PR, I just wanted to say we think this would make for a great update and we would be happy to do it. If Tannim (the subject expert) is willing to write the content an update, we'd be more than happy to work with him on one sometime...

MAKE IT SO!


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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

I’m leery of submitting updates that are text only. Having art, gifs, or better yet, a video would be much better. Which is why I have been holding off writing further combat / game play updates.
...
Thing is, our updates go public and outside of our regulars who would be engaged in conversation, updates that are more “tell” than “show” aren’t tend to not go over as well making more of a hassle for our PR peeps.
I want to show and tell how the leveling system works if I can help it. Especially showing off crude diagrams and charts. It just looks like you are getting a boring math lesson back in school.

The crunchier you make it the better, though at the same time we all understand that this is a work in progress and will be subject to change after rigorous testing both internally and with player involvement. People who don't like crunch will pass over it, but nothing communicates a real game will exist someday better than crunch. Then to support the crunch, some insight into WHY you made the decisions you did. I think it would even be valuable to mention some considerations you had to discard, and why. Nothing you EVER do will please all the stakeholders, but if you can communicate your VISION of what you want it to be and how you want it to play, your stakeholders will have a chance to get on board the bandwagon or at least tell you why they disagree. A game can't be all things to all people.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

we all understand that this is a work in progress and will be subject to change after rigorous testing both internally and with player involvement.

Corollary to that ... when is the best time to solicit feedback?

  • At the end of development (when it's too late to change anything)?
  • Midway through (when it's not the right time to consider any feedback)?
  • At the beginning (before there's anything to critique or offer feedback on)?

Now, this isn't an MWM specific complaint here ... there are LOTS of gaming companies that basically arrange their workflows such that it is NEVER the right time for Player Feedback to make a difference in what they're doing (might upset the schedule, and we can't have that!).
I think we would all be happier if MWM didn't join the crowd of gaming the Catch-22 of "when" to time the Feedback like so many other studios do (when they're not outright ignoring it as a matter of routine).

Or to put it another way ... Help Us Help You.

I mean ... what's the worst that could happen?
We find a critical flaw in the plans (like a 5 year old child would) that no one else had spotted yet in time for MWM to choose a different path that doesn't rely on that critical flaw as a linchpin of the design effort ...?

Wisdom of Crowds and all that jazz.
Why not try to make use of it when it can make a difference in the final outcome/product?

Personally, I'm of the opinion that the "right time" for feedback is iterative in multiple rounds over time, rather than doing it as a single One Time Only rubber stamp of approval (rating).


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Why not make use of it at the

Why not make use of it at the beginning?

Because most players don’t know or understand how interconnected systems work.

Most players will have a better grasp of how something works by playing through it.

Even then, most player feedback is based on how it feels to play and comes with a lot of bias.

The minority of people can give good feedback but three is also the caution of “too many hands in the pot”. And then, I’d the head chef doesn’t allow one person recipe to be “the dish” it causes negativity to breed.

Feedback is always welcome at any time. Most often with an MMO, nothing is necessarily can’t be redone. Unless it is something to do with a core part of the engine or hardware related.

Otherwise, yes feedback is good. We do take your feedback into consideration. Even if it doesn’t seem like it all the time.


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I think its also dangerous to

I think its also dangerous to allow the potential players to continue to entertain their own dream state. By this I mean players who are actively following the game have heard so many ways things COULD be that they've come up with some personal mental model of what they EXPECT it to be. Then when they find out how the game will ACTUALLY be, they are disheartened.

I think the earlier you set expectations, the earlier you can work to get the potential player base into wanting the game they will actually get.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
warlocc
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

we all understand that this is a work in progress and will be subject to change after rigorous testing both internally and with player involvement. People who don't like crunch will pass over it...

If only that were true.

PR Team, Forum Moderator, Live Response Team

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Effects of leveling up would

Effects of leveling up would be good, but effects of de-leveling seem more important, somehow. I would gladly de-level to a zone cap, IFF that was a Choice and it didn't take powers away, or nerf my Augments. If I go to the trouble and expense of building for +100% Accuracy, for instance, I don't want to suddenly have that reduced to +10%. Reduce the core stats of the Ability, itself, but leave my costly investments alone!

Be Well!\
Fireheart

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Tannim222 wrote:
Tannim222 wrote:

Because most players don’t know or understand how interconnected systems work.

/em politely bemused chuckle

I have been accused of being many things ... but being "most players" is not among those accusations (nor would it be true if it were leveled at me).


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I doubt that Anyone on these

I doubt that Anyone on these forums enough to bother, annoy, or torment the Devs, mostly by being more often right than wrong, could be considered 'most players'.

Of course, the real trick is to 'answer' a knowledgable querant without causing a panic among 'most players' or otherwise saying 'too much'.

Be Well!
Fireheart

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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

I doubt that Anyone on these forums enough to bother, annoy, or torment the Devs, mostly by being more often right than wrong, could be considered 'most players'.

Granted.

Fireheart wrote:

Of course, the real trick is to 'answer' a knowledgable querant without causing a panic among 'most players' or otherwise saying 'too much'.

Also granted.

What I'm having trouble with is reconciling the notion that Feedback Is Wanted™ ... with the notion that it's Never The Right Time™ for that feedback to be solicited or offered unsolicited.
Not now, later.
Not now, it's too late.
The conversation involving feedback just doesn't happen At Exactly The Right Time ... or better yet Times (plural) when it can make a difference in development.

I've had this conversation with 3D artists making photosets and movies, that waiting until you're "done" to send stuff out for QA (Quality Assurance) at the end of the process is TOO LATE for that QA to be of any real meaningful critique value.
If you wait until the end of production, all you're asking for is a rubber stamp shaped like a fig leaf ... because you're already committed to a release date by that point and it's too late to go back and fix anything (let alone make it better!) than what you've got.
So "QA" turns into a Ship It As Is? (Y/N) type of boolean answer, rather than an opportunity for feedback and analysis of alternatives to make sure you're making the Best Choices at each step of the production process.
You're not Assuring Quality ... you just signing off that what was put in front of you was "good enough" to go out the door.
It's not Quality Assurance ... merely Quality Acquiescence ... and don't you dare get the two of those things confused with each other!

Or to put it another way ... the Sunk Costs Fallacy has a LOT of currency in production, where it's "easier" to just not solicit feedback until everything is "Done" and then if you get feedback saying you've made a (huge!) mistake, you can just ignore it and plow ahead with what you're doing anyway.

Cryptic did that with the Enhancement Dysfunction and Global Defense Nerfs a mere ONE YEAR after City of Heroes was released.
Their forums MELTED DOWN under the tsunami of negative feedback (more than 90% of the feedback was negative on the changes) ... going offline for THREE DAYS ... because they did something that no one had asked for, which fundamentally changed multiple interactions of CORE game mechanics, and there was no attempt at communication before springing the changes on everyone and breaking a lot of characters.
This action, and the decision to NOT reverse course after the community reaction, earned Jack "Statesman" Emmert the lifelong enmity of the community playing ... and then quitting in disgust ... that game, after "Statesman" had publicly assured everyone that there were no further changes to powers in the pipeline previously (technically true, if you squinted hard enough and wanted to be a rules lawyer about it, but for all intents and purposes to the playerbase totally and utterly false in effects and repercussions).

Looking back on it ... that decision, made at that time in the history of City of Heroes, adhered to despite the overwhelming negative response (even years later, Cuppa Jo, the community manager at the time, got a bleak look on her face when the subject was broached while talking to her in person) ... THAT set of decisions probably dealt a mortal wound to City of Heroes that it never really truly recovered from. The game would plateau in the future, but it would never again "have the wind in the sails" like it did before ED and GDN combined to betray (yes, BETRAY!) the expectations of the playerbase for the game ... and that betrayal of expectations was remembered and could never be washed away.
Because there are no second chances at a good first impression.

So if I seem a bit ... zealous ... in wanting to guard MWM against making some of the mistakes the Cryptic did under the leadership of "Statesman" when it comes to the topic of game developments (and particularly developments of the game mechanics) ... well ... let's just say I've got the motivation of HISTORY to inform my desire to not see the past get repeated "as was" in the City of Titans.
But I can't help you ... if you won't let me (and others) ... help you.
I can't critique what you're doing if you don't tell us what you're doing.

I can only hope that feeling makes sense to someone besides merely myself.


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Doesn't matter how good the

Doesn't matter how good the intentions of the players on this forum are. Everything we put out here, everyone on the whole Internet can read. Our updates go out on all the social media platforms, and get covered by at least two MMO publications.
Every time we show something unfinished, or with a big technical explanation attached, only our most ardent supporters read it. Everyone else eviscerates us and puts us into total damage control mode.

Great example, some time ago we showcased a bit of technology in the map building process that automatically added random "clutter". We explained how it worked, and showed it off with a couple pictures of some trash dumpsters to display the randomization. Remember that one?
Feedback from the core forum users here was okay. The rest of the Internet? "It took you 6 years to put some trash around a dumpster. You're all failures."

So any time we consider a big write up that doesn't include a clear, easy to understand system, mechanic, or milestone, we have to do it with that in mind. Now, could we post the info just here on the forums, and not push it out as an update too? Sure. I shouldn't have to tell anyone what the reaction to that would be though.
If you don't know, read the Kickstarter comments from when we were late putting those updates out.

If you really want to help and get involved in unfinished parts, the best thing to do would be to volunteer and actually help and get involved in finishing those parts.

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Red Warlock
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warlocc wrote:
warlocc wrote:

If you really want to help and get involved in unfinished parts, the best thing to do would be to volunteer and actually help and get involved in finishing those parts.

That's the most ideal support we can have, and we welcome people to please come volunteer with us if you have the time and interest.

I want to acknowledge that there is also a great opportunity in feedback from the players. We welcome feedback because sometimes (not always, but sometimes) it can really help provide developers with information about how to improve the work we are doing.

An example, there was some reaction to a picture we shared of Downtown about some grand stairs we had there and the buildings around them. We knew that some of the details in that area were unfinished and still needed some work, so in one way, we could just reply - it's not done yet, so give it some time. But when thinking about the feedback a little more, I encouraged some conversation about it because out of that conversation I found there were some helpful clarifications about what wasn't working that can be improved. It would be a waste of time for me to replace things in that area if I still wasn't understanding what people think isn't working.

So, to the degree that a dev can incorporate the feedback, feedback can really help us in shaping our work. That said, a lot of feedback we also find to be problematic for various reasons (the time it would take to implement a recommendation, prioritizing something that one player wants that would take an inordinate amount of time, etc.). So, we need to balance recommendations we receive with how feasible they might be, or if we even agree with them. But there is definitely lots of room for incorporating feedback and we encourage it because it can improve the work we do.

Environmental Artist, PR Editor

Redlynne
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warlocc wrote:
warlocc wrote:

If you really want to help and get involved in unfinished parts, the best thing to do would be to volunteer and actually help and get involved in finishing those parts.

In which case, the all important question becomes ... who to send the private message to ...?
I mean, no point in wasting staff time by pestering the wrong people on staff, right?


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And Red, thanks for reminding

And Red, thanks for reminding me of Cuppa Jo.

When I think of forum moderation and the work we do in PR, I think of Cuppa Jo as someone who really stood out for the job she did. She was a calming presence in a sometimes chaotic environment bringing clarity, responsiveness, helpfulness, not trying to argue and working with the community to make sure they felt like they were heard. I thought she did a great job and her style of dialogue is something I hope we can foster here...

Environmental Artist, PR Editor

warlocc
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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:
warlocc wrote:

If you really want to help and get involved in unfinished parts, the best thing to do would be to volunteer and actually help and get involved in finishing those parts.

In which case, the all important question becomes ... who to send the private message to ...?
I mean, no point in wasting staff time by pestering the wrong people on staff, right?

While I meant it more generally than specifically, what I did was sent a copy of my resume to

and we worked me in where my experience would benefit most.

At this point though, there's a couple specific skillsets we need, mostly in art and the more technical areas.

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Redlynne
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Red Warlock wrote:
Red Warlock wrote:

And Red, thanks for reminding me of Cuppa Jo.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know what is (now) ancient history, Cuppa Jo was the first Community Manager for City of Heroes before moving over to the Tabula Rasa team.
Last I heard (years ago) she was a producer on a different game.
Unknown if she's still in the industry.

Cuppa Jo was, and presumably still is (and always will be) ... pretty damn awesome.


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Redlynne
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A fascinating addendum to the

A fascinating addendum to the RMT issues of WoW Token, and the economic incentives it creates.


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.