Another spin to the wheel

It started as a “quick” reply on this thread to finish to include many notes and abservations that I was waiting to organize. This came out even too easily. I rarely can write this clearly and straight to the point. It doesn’t happen always that I can write without struggling with myself and what I want to say.

The main topic is the PvE in DAoC and the newbie experience. But it then joins a bunch of different topics that I’m discussing these days and that are all related.

I’m going to post this on F13 in a few hours, if you want to stop me, do it now :)

Doing the Champion quests should get you enough CL experience to reach CL3, assuming you do nothing else. As for the rest, I’d argue that unlike TOA, you absolutely do not need CL5 to be RvR-ready. It’s like the titles at RR11+, something nice as a reward once you get there, not something to “grind” to.

1- This ruins the content. At least assuming that for “champion quests” you mean the three chapters. Retaining these to do them at 50 to maximize the gain (since you can start to acquire the exp only at 50) makes the content even more dull than how it is already since the first chapter is tailored for level 30 and the second for level 40. Fighting a bunch of greys to accomplish very simple and linear tasks won’t be all that entertaining.

2- It’s not that the CLs are required for RvR, it’s just that in this case the reward isn’t really appropriate to the time required. In other words: not justified.

Now the points is: why was it changed (nerfed) at the end of the beta? From the comments, true or not, I heard that you received around a .4 for killing an enemy in solo. Which would still be an acceptable balance considering you would have the bar moving and the ten bubbles filling up at a decent pace. There are already the Realm Ranks to define that type of slow and exponential progress, there’s no reason to add another overlapping.

Since the Cs don’t really stack in power (the same assumption that was betrayed with ToA) their purpose is to broaden the class. Offer it some more minor tricks. This has the sole scope of making them more fun to play since one of the limits of the game is about having classes that are too strict and specialized. Hence it’s another of those parts of the game that you WANT to valorize, instead of keeping it away from the players.

The titles in RvR and the Ranks can be “achievement based”. Because that’s their direct and natural purpose and sense. But it’s not so good to retain the achievement based mechanic for the CLs. There’s nothing to achieve because they don’t offer anything that is worth pursuing. Instead they add some FUN to the classes that would be a good idea to hand out to the players for “cheap”. Like it already happens for the weapons.

What I mean is that there isn’t really a good reason to make it slow instead of more quick. You are just pushing back the fun.

And this goes further because it’s a patter Mythic is repeating. In September you nerfed the exp in the TDs. Why? Again there isn’t a good reason to do this and it just damaged the game some more.

Let’s put it in this way: our life is too short to waste time grinding repetitive and dull PvE content that doesn’t offer any challenge. That’s what the TDs are. So why a designer would want the players to spend MORE time there? Where is the gain? Where is the purpose? This problem is really at the basic level. In a game you can offer a grind only for those parts that are already representing a satisfying repetable content.

The RvR in DAoC is a great and perfect example of “satisfying repetable content”. The PvE is NOT.

This is why noone criticizes the Realm Ranks *grind* and why there are players that always praise it above what WoW implemented. The grind here is appropriate. It doesn’t ruin the game. It valorizes it. But it’s completely different when you reapply grindy mechanics to the PvE (both as exp grind and money grind). ALL KINDS OF GRINDS aren’t fun in a dull, repetitive PvE. And there isn’t a single decent reason why you would find acceptable and useful to TRAP the players in a cavern for days. It follows the same unjustified and unfun design trend that we have criticized for all these years. It’s masochistic.

Players complain because this is logically wrong.

So, again, why the exp in the TDs was nerfed? The only reason I can imagine is to rebalance the experience gained there in relation with the rest of the game. In fact there’s that “triad” that I already commented and that is the reason why I was against AlteredOne proposed changes:
1) In TDs you quickly gain money and exp / but not loot
2) In the instanced dungeons you can “quickly” gain Aurulite, hence items / but the exp is crap
3) The quick task quests around the non-instanced zones give you easier *soloable* and short tasks that give you medium money and exp

1) ++money ++exp –loot
2) –money –exp ++loot
3) +exp +money ++easy to solo

The first patter was by far the most efficient. In fact with the money you can also go buy equipment and even aurulite. This is why the only reason I found to the nerf to the exp in TDs is about rebalancing those patterns. But this doesn’t justify it. We still lack the satisfying repetable content and these patterns were rebalanced in the WRONG direction. It was the other two patterns that needed to be brought in line with the TDs and not the other way around.

But there’s even another point to consider. Why the hell we would need three different patterns? The PvE is the same in all three. It doesn’t offer anything different:

You have so many different possibilities just with Catacombs. You can level by taking these solo mini-quests in the new zones, you can farm aurulite in the new instances or the instances of the classic dungeons, or you can do task dungeons to farm directly the experience at an insane rate. But, no matter what you choose, the experience (of the player) is completely MISSING. You can trade between voids. Between empty experiences that are there just as excuses (and excusing what exactly?).

This is why I believe that DAoC would need a *consolidation* of its PvE and not a further fragmentation as it happened. Of course, it would benefit from a fragmentation of the PvE intended as: different types of challenge and patterns presented. Different qualities and something that could be actually involving. But what DAoC diversificates is not the actual PvE (which is dull and repetitive in every case) but the rewards. The reward is the only difference setting apart the three patterns. And it is obvious how this isn’t positive for a game that definitely doesn’t need a grind applied to this type of content, in particular when the fragmentation of the PvE is furtherly made worse by the population problems and the isolation of the players through the instanced content.

We already know that instancing has both good and bad consequences. This is even worse in a game with population problems (in particular at the lower levels, where the newbies need reasons to have fun and get involved) and with this fragmentation of the PvE that has no good effects or logical justifications.

This is why it’s always not so trivial to analyze all these parts and why it’s not possible to just claim a bonus to the exp or something similar. All these things delve deeper. Why the hell we cannot have a place where we can get good money, good exp and even good equipment? What are the valid reasons that brought to the fragmentation of patterns I illustrated above? I don’t know any. What I know is that the great majority of the players are grinding the TDs DEFINITELY NOT because they are having fun. But just because they are the most efficient pattern offered. They don’t enjoy the content. They ENDURE it. And this isn’t acceptable in an environment where you are supposed to have… fun. An environment that is supposed to valorize its qualities and not its problems.

Now I hope my point is clear: the existence of the TDs in the game is completely unjustified. So it makes sense to remove them since they damage the game. Now think to what could happen if Mythic would announce the removal of the TDs. The players would RAGE. And here’s another important point. The players wouldn’t be angry because you remove something fun from the game, but because you remove a viable, consolidated and optimal pattern that they *absolutely need*. It’s their pattern of choice. The “fun” and the optimized pattern must be kept separate. They aren’t the same entity. The players are merely choosing the “less worst” pattern they have available to endure the PvE treadmill and reach the endgame, that, contrarily to WoW, is that part of the game that still justifies a subscription fee. How could we “valorize” the PvE instead of balancing the “less worst” patterns as it happened till now?

Imho the TDs must be completely eradicated. That’s the very first step. They never made sense both from the player’s perspective and the design. They are unjustified and just damage the game. They only “dissimulate” a value by offering the best pattern available. But that value is solely functional and totally inappropriate.

The second step, also following the line of thoughts above, is about moving the “TDs mechanics” (go to taskmaster and take the two-types missions, the “clear dungeon” should be just removed) WITHIN the Instanced Dungeons where you farm aurulite. Because there isn’t a valid reason to keep the “reward” patterns separate. There are no advantages. This would instead encourage the players to focus on something more varied. The IDs offer a more refreshing experience than the TDs and they are naturally suitable to inherit their role. We remove the TDs and carry over their functional role to the IDs where the players would benefit from a more rewarding and complete experience:

a) Players will hunt everything they need: money, exp and equipment. Also helping them to be “viable” for the RvR BattleGrounds.
b) The experience will be more varied and refreshing: the IDs offer more varied environments and challenges.
c) This would consolidate the “game space”, encouraging the players to gather and group.

While ToA exhibited a blatantly flawed design under everyone’s eyes, Catacombs still brought new mistakes that are also damaging the game, just in a more subtle and less apparent way. Which doesn’t make those mistakes any less significant.

I think that what I wrote here is a demonstration of why we cannot compile a personal wish list and expect to do something positive to the game. Things are complex and need an involved discussion where the arguments can be delved and explained. This isn’t a conclusion even if I provided my own. This is instead a possible start to confront those ideas, contribute to shape new ones and avoid to repeat the past mistakes.

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