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On Progression, difficulty, and differences in playstyle. Follow

#1 Dec 08 2012 at 10:22 AM Rating: Good
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There's been a couple off-tangents of common topics in already established threads (Read: Derails) lately and I wanted to give them their own thread to touch on them as a whole. Mainly because I'm at work an am too lazy to re-read through every thread to find out where posts along each particular point were to address them separately (Especially when they run along the same familiar vein.)

This will be huge. TL;DL is a valid excuse here. I’ll break the sections up into posts and feel free to discuss them as you will. I’ll try to simplify and break it down into easy to read points after I’ve got it all up.

Edited, Dec 8th 2012 11:29am by Hyrist
#2 Dec 08 2012 at 10:28 AM Rating: Good
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“The Numbers Game.”

The first concept is progression. Some of the more core players among us tend to be concerned that leveling is too quick for them. "I shouldn’t be able to level to cap within a week." was the quote, though where in the blasted threads it is eludes me.

The quintessential problem about this complaint is that it is heavily subjective. The play speed of one player may not be the same as another player. Nobody is going to be entirely satisfied by the leveling curve in the game. Something that may take a week for a player who plays efficiently may take months for a player who plays casually.

This is why it becomes a polarizing debate. If the core players pull the developers in their favor then the general complaint will be that leveling is too slow and restrictive. This is doubled up upon because of the pressures of reaching and participating in endgame which players have conceived as the true depth of the game and the developers, due to pressure, must accommodate. A hearty endgame population is also a healthier one, as it creates a large pool of players to recruit to guilds from, as well as the possibilities of pick-up-groups (though they tend to get frowned upon by the vocals in forums).

This is all ignoring the fact that the core population tends to be the minority population. In an argument for subscriptions, the majority wins, whatever we may think privately.

- ‘But Hyrist, the Core players usually are the ones who stick around in the long haul and keep the game running when the casuals jump the bandwagon!

This is a half-truth. There are bandwagon players in the core community as well as the casual community, and there are games that turn casual players into core players. A game that rejects casual players stunts its potential growth.

- ‘But FFXI…’

FFXI is a relic of the Everquest era (quite possibly the last great of that era of MMOs) where time sinks were an accepted practice. This is no longer the case in modern MMOs and Blizzard was aware of this trend as it was forming. It is why World of Warcraft steered towards the more casual player and is one of their components for their success- a trend that has continued, to various levels of success, on other MMOs. There are still great ideas to come this game, but it should be taken with the game's age in mind.

- ‘So there’s no compromise?’

Square Enix attempted a compromise when this game, poor engine and all, first was conceived. (The Fatigue system) It was hugely despised by the base, who felt as if they were unnecessarily being held back. A leveling pace which appeals to the average player becomes the only solution. This means that players who like to play hard and fast might find themselves reaching the top quickly.

You cannot ignore the casual base for the sake of a (albiet loyal) minority. But that does not mean ignore the core players either, more on this below.
#3 Dec 08 2012 at 10:29 AM Rating: Good
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“I want to feel whole.”

While all the debates about where the leveling system should appeal to have been said over and over again. There has been relatively little discussion as to why there is such a polarization and I believe games like Guild Wars 2 and League of Legends have finally routed out the reason.

A common trend in RPGs, something that we have all taken for granted, is that many primary combat moves and techniques are held back from the player until late levels – leaving a player, regardless of their previous experiences in games, left with a sense of weakness they must rise up form. While originally novel, the average MMO player is no longer one that has never played MMOs before. Typically there may be one or more other games now under their belt. And the concept of starting over from scratch with nothing but mundane abilities (in contrast to the ones granted late game) to keep them occupied as they grind up the levels.

Guild Wars 2 changed the approach. The primary combat skills and combinations are available almost immediately (within the first 9 levels or so). Secondary skills, and traits, however, were granted gradually. This gave the player the feeling of empowerment and exploration at the start, and allowed the concept of progression to be established through refinement, rather than through level-gating abilities.
After pondering over the systems I believe this right now to be the best answer to the progression question – but do not think it can be implemented at this stage with A Realm Reborn.

There is, however, and alternate route and it is inspired from FFXI: The Merit System. The merit system would allow players to progress quickly up the levels required for them to have a full starter set of abilities, but the Merits itself can provide long term goals of refinement of these abilities. Between the Job Quests and the Merit system, there will be plenty of special access abilities those who want to feel the long term progression of the game to experience, but without the sacrifice of the base level of empowerment many players want to experience early in.

- ‘But what about lower level content? Won’t players that speed through the levels end up neglecting this?’

Level sync addresses accessibility issues as far as going back and playing the content over the norm level. This sort of “Level Scaling” system is starting to become more common in MMOs to help lengthen the life of earlier level content. The only thing that hinders the idea of higher level players experiencing this content once passed up level wise is a reward relevant to their pursuits at higher level. This can be address by providing treasures that scale with level (such as materia), or access to currency in amounts relevant to their needs.

There is the minor concern about whether or not abilities and merits earned in higher levels can be scaled down for use when level capped, but this is more a balance issue. Having experienced it in Guild Wars 2, I feel as if having skills still being accessible, but scaled down appropriately for the level is the correct course of action. It will be interesting to see what SE does with this.
#4 Dec 08 2012 at 10:31 AM Rating: Excellent
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“Effort and Reward: It’s all about the loot.”

Progression isn’t just for skills and leveling. At endgame, it is primarily about hunting down rare game or delving down into deep dungeons, all looking for that high challenge and epic loot.

It’s about piecing together that relic weapon or finding the hard-to-get materials for that armor you wanted to craft. However, once again, the core players seem to speak out in concern about players who seem to want ‘epic loot’ for little to no effort.

Honestly, I believe this to be hyperbole and not an accurate assessment of the casual base.

There are several issues concerning loot rewards that players on both the core and casual base agree about, and this is the primary source of all complaints concerning loot, and it can be summed up in one term. RNG, or Random Number Generator.

It must be reiterated that most players now are MMO veterans, or are older players with lives and children. The concept of ‘getting lucky’ in terms of loot drops for some of the most powerful gear in the game is tired and heavily disliked by the majority of the base. Both the Core and the Casuals agree that this mechanic holds players back, simply because of what seems to be poor dice roles. Skill and dedication become irrelevant in the face of lady luck.

The casual players, however, play less, and therefore have fewer chances for luck to swing their way. This means they are caught with entry-level gear that simply isn’t good enough to even try for some of these long-term goal pieces. And even then when luck pushes their way, they have to deal with this issue on top of the normal stresses of dedication and difficulty for endgame issues.

The casual player simply doesn’t have the level of tolerance for this sort of broken mechanics as the core player does, who simply views it as another challenge to overcome, even though they’re criticizing it right besides the casual player.

The key component here is a feeling of certainty a tangible concept of progression that gives a player a taste of the incoming accomplishment. This is not unlike losing a boss battle repeatedly, but watching you get further and further down on the enemy’s health bar each time. You can taste the victory as you work to improve, even if it’s still out of reach. A situation in which the enemy MAY drop the item when it is defeated feels like a loss. Even though you accomplished the victory, it would up being an empty one. Currency systems for loot, on top of luck or even without it, give players a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to continue working towards their goals.

As far as items that requires a greater deal of effort. Casuals usually just want the ability to challenge it in bites and chunks on the individual level as opposed to entirely being reliant on a dedicated endgame group. Something other MMOs have accomplished through acquirement of dailies, monthlies, etc as being a means of working towards the goal needed. This does not reduce the rarity as it does take a great deal of time still to accomplish it through these means alone. Whether or not challenges like Ifrit Extreme is still a requirement for these, or if these items would simply alternatives of lesser strength than the relics that ask for these group requirements can all be debated upon. The point of the matter is to have weapons that require individual as opposed to group dedication that will allow the player to feel similar accomplishments – not wanting epic loot and not working for it.
#5 Dec 08 2012 at 10:32 AM Rating: Good
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“A game for everyone, if only in pieces.”

Ultimately there are going to be parts of the game that cater to one aspect above the others. Some things will be more entertaining for casuals and some more geared for core players to challenge themselves. However the mechanics that all share in should have a variety appeal. This means, some parts are going to feel easy to some, and hard to others. You can’t please everyone perfectly, but you can try to give everyone a place to settle in and call home.

Not all of this will happen in a timely manner, but we don’t need to polarize ourselves or accuse one another that we’re ruining each other’s games. There are very good compromises if we only allow ourselves to broaden our view and be a little imaginative with our solutions. In either case the industry will continue to evolve, and hopefully FFXIV will evolve along with it.

And if you bothered to read all that, thanks for your time.
#6 Dec 08 2012 at 1:00 PM Rating: Decent
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I'm sure this thread would have been a total TL;DR waste if it weren't for people like me. So... you're welcome?

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“The Numbers Game.”


I agree with you on this section insofar as appealing to casual gamers and the current climate of the MMO market. But as I stated in another thread, I think the argument misses the point. There is no one right answer wherein players are concerned whether the leveling should take a long time or go fast. It's all about how much actual game content you have that's fun and properly encourages players to do it. When you have a lot of that, a long haul to level up is fine! And when you don't, it isn't.

FFXI didn't do this. The combat aspect of gameplay stagnated quickly with the lack of high level abilities that changed the way your job was played. There was a lot of content that didn't offer fair rewards for completion. GW2 nearly has the reverse problem. You can level up much too quickly to do all the content. I hit cap without seeing half of the low-level content in the game, and now I have no incentive to go back and do it. This might have been fine if I wanted to do multiple characters, but I don't, because the experience isn't significantly different enough that I want to play the game all over. They have plenty enough of "that kind" of content, but there aren't any real incentives to do it, and the combat is still getting a bit boring with the general lack of skill needed to win. Even so, they would have easily kept me playing longer if it took me longer to reach the cap.

And this sort of ties in to something you said in your second post. I thought it was a terrible idea for them to give you access to all of your abilities so early in GW2. I had all of the abilities I was going to use by level 50. So from 50-80, my class played almost identically, and I had nothing to look forward to but a few skill traits. It was definitely a GOOD move that they gave you so many skills to start out, but they didn't pace them out to keep your interest through the end of the game.

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Level sync addresses accessibility issues as far as going back and playing the content over the norm level. This sort of “Level Scaling” system is starting to become more common in MMOs to help lengthen the life of earlier level content. The only thing that hinders the idea of higher level players experiencing this content once passed up level wise is a reward relevant to their pursuits at higher level. This can be address by providing treasures that scale with level (such as materia), or access to currency in amounts relevant to their needs.

There is the minor concern about whether or not abilities and merits earned in higher levels can be scaled down for use when level capped, but this is more a balance issue. Having experienced it in Guild Wars 2, I feel as if having skills still being accessible, but scaled down appropriately for the level is the correct course of action. It will be interesting to see what SE does with this.


I think you might be overstating the efficacy of this solution on its own. I think it's a great solution for keeping low-level content accessible, and I think you're correct in pointing out that rewards need to scale to properly incentivize the content. But GW2 basically does this already, and it hasn't made the completion of low-level content necessarily desirable. There are reasons for that which I feel are more or less specific to GW2, but my point simply being that while level scaling is a very useful and important tool, I don't think it nearly addresses all the problems with low-level accessibility.

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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#7 Dec 08 2012 at 1:13 PM Rating: Decent
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The key component here is a feeling of certainty a tangible concept of progression that gives a player a taste of the incoming accomplishment. This is not unlike losing a boss battle repeatedly, but watching you get further and further down on the enemy’s health bar each time. You can taste the victory as you work to improve, even if it’s still out of reach. A situation in which the enemy MAY drop the item when it is defeated feels like a loss. Even though you accomplished the victory, it would up being an empty one. Currency systems for loot, on top of luck or even without it, give players a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to continue working towards their goals.


I agree with everything you said about the "problem," but I don't think this is inherently the solution. It can certainly be a part of the solution. But I think that the larger problem is that skill needs to be the decisive factor in earning prizes, not time spent grinding or camping.

If we take it as granted that there HAS to be some artificial timesink as a matter of keeping subscriptions long enough to be viable, then I think currency systems are better than nothing, but just in terms of triggering that "feel-good response," the best thing is when you succeed by killing the monster, and it drops right away. Trading in currency for the loot sort of waters down the feedback mechanism that makes you feel good about the reward. So you could even have a system where, say, you trade in however many of the currency you collected and each 1 gives you a 1% chance of a drop (or something). Just spitballing.

But I think that if a game is balanced properly (which I don't take for granted as something easy to do, though it's certainly entirely possible), then the solution is just to make things more challenging, and less penalizing for loss. If it takes you 50 times to kill something, but you know that it can be done, and that you WILL get the drop when you kill it, that's the ideal situation for motivating players. Group balancing mechanics are what make this very difficult from a design perspective. If you're only 1/15th of the party, then your victories and losses aren't entirely yours. It no longer becomes a problem of "how skilled am I?" There are a number of solutions for this that are simpler than "good balance," but that could be its own thread.

Anyway, you hit on some key points, and despite my only really commenting on the things which I felt were a bit off, I really think you summarized a lot of problems that players are experiencing in MMOs today.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#8 Dec 08 2012 at 3:39 PM Rating: Excellent
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Thank you for your reply. There are a few things I'd like to counterpoint on.

Quote:
And this sort of ties in to something you said in your second post. I thought it was a terrible idea for them to give you access to all of your abilities so early in GW2. I had all of the abilities I was going to use by level 50. So from 50-80, my class played almost identically, and I had nothing to look forward to but a few skill traits. It was definitely a GOOD move that they gave you so many skills to start out, but they didn't pace them out to keep your interest through the end of the game.


This both is and isn't true about Guild Wars 2. While all of your attack skills attached from your weapons become accessible by merely using them for a while, the refinement aspects of the game truly made the skills into a different beast all together. As a Mesmer I can tell you that the entire pacing of the class changed at level 40 when I first got access to Deceptive Evasion, which changed all of my tactics at once. It wasn't an ability, but it was a game-changing trait. I feel as if the significance of this can't go unstated. There most defiantly was a feeling of progress with the classes beyond simply learning the attack skills.

Beyond this, I'd like to point out that Square Enix has the advantage of quested skills; Particularly, in the concept of job abilities, which are fairly different than your normal class abilities, which are simply granted with level. With the level arc fairly swift in FFXIV, the significance of having to slow down and do a quest to unlock some of your classes will help with the feeling of progression, and, with the idea of Merited abilities still a possibility, I don't think learning skills and feeling progressed and interested will be as much of an issue here as it may have for you in Guild Wars 2.

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I think you might be overstating the efficacy of this solution on its own. I think it's a great solution for keeping low-level content accessible, and I think you're correct in pointing out that rewards need to scale to properly incentivize the content. But GW2 basically does this already, and it hasn't made the completion of low-level content necessarily desirable. There are reasons for that which I feel are more or less specific to GW2, but my point simply being that while level scaling is a very useful and important tool, I don't think it nearly addresses all the problems with low-level accessibility.


I agree, and may go further to point out the possible reason. Guild Wars two strived heavily to normalize stats and make it so no one piece of content ever held a major edge over the others. This leads primarily into the trend that most weapons and items in dungeons and unique areas were cosmetic.

Square Enix could bypass this by making unique, scaling rewards based on themes related to the specific content regardless of level. Want powerful wind based meteria, fight in the wind-based dungeons.

Quote:
I agree with everything you said about the "problem," but I don't think this is inherently the solution. It can certainly be a part of the solution. But I think that the larger problem is that skill needs to be the decisive factor in earning prizes, not time spent grinding or camping.


This was a lack of clarity on my part.

Essentially, there are two kinds of difficulty in games: Difficulty that requires dedication over a period of time or 'timesink' and difficulty that requires memorization and preparedness in a fight, or 'skill'. Neither one of these are superior to the other, and they're both prone to abuse.

A fight that is too hard will narrow down the candidates to playing them only to the elite of the elite, which is those who already have most of the best gear, and best teamwork. While it is good to have those challenges, they need to remain few comparatively to those that are more accessible.

Likewise, provide too long of a timeskink, and ,as you say, the experience gets watered down.

The balancing act is to provide both of these avenues for pursuit of your goals, and allow the player to decide what they enjoy. The normal version of Nael Darnus was an excellent fight that was challenging; where as Raven Nevermore and Ifrit Extreme could be considered downright punishing to some. These situations, in which you're pushed hard to work together to pass, should have that guaranteed loot.
However, to keep the currency aspect of the game from getting stagnant, a bit of additional 'luck' element can also be introduced. For example, Garuda's Headbands and her weapons.

Garuda had a chance to drop her weapons via RNG, but even if you won, you got a headdress. Enough of those, and you got the weapon you wanted anyways. This is a good system to have in situations like that and can be mimicked in other events along with other gains.

I'm not saying balancing this content to solve the issues will be easy. What I was attempting to stress is that the concerns for these games are shared with both the casual and the core audience. And that the divide between these two camps is really unnecessary, as the solutions to their problems can and should not step upon one another, except in the case of achieving that base-line of statistical competence (not competent performance, mind you) which I firmly believe should be easily accessible.

Or put simply, content less of a gear check, more of a teamwork check. A player should never feel guilty by playing at their own pace.
#9 Dec 08 2012 at 4:22 PM Rating: Default
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This both is and isn't true about Guild Wars 2. While all of your attack skills attached from your weapons become accessible by merely using them for a while, the refinement aspects of the game truly made the skills into a different beast all together. As a Mesmer I can tell you that the entire pacing of the class changed at level 40 when I first got access to Deceptive Evasion, which changed all of my tactics at once. It wasn't an ability, but it was a game-changing trait. I feel as if the significance of this can't go unstated. There most defiantly was a feeling of progress with the classes beyond simply learning the attack skills.

Beyond this, I'd like to point out that Square Enix has the advantage of quested skills; Particularly, in the concept of job abilities, which are fairly different than your normal class abilities, which are simply granted with level. With the level arc fairly swift in FFXIV, the significance of having to slow down and do a quest to unlock some of your classes will help with the feeling of progression, and, with the idea of Merited abilities still a possibility, I don't think learning skills and feeling progressed and interested will be as much of an issue here as it may have for you in Guild Wars 2.


I don't actually know much about the current (or previous) state of FFXIV, so I can't comment on some of those things. But as for skills in GW2, they helped a little bit, but most of them weren't significant enough. Deceptive Evasion is probably one of the most critical, definitely so for Mesmer. I played as a Mesmer, but I didn't like it that much. It was frustrating how many of the active abilities you could learn were not particularly useful, and as much as on my Necromancer, I could see which abilities were really useful by level 30, and didn't have much more to look forward to. Perhaps less savvy players took more time to figure things out, but I think the way I selected abilities was pretty common sense and doesn't exactly qualify me as a genius. I think had GW2 done a better job of balancing their abilities and skills, we wouldn't be having this discussion (and we would probably be playing it right now).

So FFXIV has quested skills? If so, that makes me happy. That's something I've been begging for for years now. I suppose it's probably expecting too much that the quest narratives are actually tied in to learning the skill (like having to defeat a swordmaster to learn a new sword skill, as a generic example).

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Square Enix could bypass this by making unique, scaling rewards based on themes related to the specific content regardless of level. Want powerful wind based meteria, fight in the wind-based dungeons.

Agreed. Even simply preserving monster-specific drops can allay this so long as there is some motivation for all players (not just certain classes) to participate. I feel that the lack of monster-specific drops in GW2 was a rather significant oversight. Actually I feel that most of the loot system was rather lazily done.

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Essentially, there are two kinds of difficulty in games: Difficulty that requires dedication over a period of time or 'timesink' and difficulty that requires memorization and preparedness in a fight, or 'skill'. Neither one of these are superior to the other, and they're both prone to abuse.

A fight that is too hard will narrow down the candidates to playing them only to the elite of the elite, which is those who already have most of the best gear, and best teamwork. While it is good to have those challenges, they need to remain few comparatively to those that are more accessible.


I don't necessarily agree with this. Specifically, I don't generally agree that skill difficulty isn't "superior" to timesink difficulty. In fact, neither does decades of research on motivational psychology. But I think I see the distinction in our views that contributes to that disagreement. It's true that the game shouldn't be too challenging, as that causes amotivation. When players feel that they -can't- succeed, they get frustrated and stop. That should never be the case, not even in a game highly oriented towards skill. Most of the challenges should be difficult but able to be overcome. A commonly cited figure for athletic training is that players should be able to successfully execute a new skill ~80% of the time. I think it can be significantly less than that in a video game major encounter where players are expected to fail and retry. If the average player can win after roughly five attempts, let's say, and is not significantly penalized, I think that's a fair challenge.

You can then have a few extremely difficult "elite" encounters that require significant skill. These can be for your relic weapons and whatnot. They give players something to aspire to without restricting the majority of the content to them.

Most MMOs today require very little skill in combat, well below the ability level of most players considering their developmental level.

I don't necessarily have a problem with providing players an alternate route. I think it's absolutely justifiable to give players different paths to the same goal. But I don't think most players want a "timesink" path so much as they want a skill path that fairly rewards them for their skill and gives them opportunities to develop it through a progressive escalation of difficulty. And again, I think one of the oldest and most brilliant design features of video games (also supported by motivational psychology) is offering difficulty levels. Easy, Medium, Hard, Intense, or what have you. I think most players would rather work their way up to defeating an Intense encounter by practicing in Hard than to do the Easy encounter 200 times to get the reward from the Intense encounter.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#10 Dec 08 2012 at 4:22 PM Rating: Decent
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By the way, again, I mostly agree with you. I'm just picking out the things which I quibble with.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#11 Dec 08 2012 at 7:32 PM Rating: Good
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Alot of my phraising has something to be desire too. I do believe there is somethings that should require a time investment. Not so much as a time sink, but as a growth development. Like skill based challenges that cause motivation loss, but far more common. Growth situations in which you are to see your desired results develop over time is often left cheaply done and misused.

Quote:
I don't necessarily have a problem with providing players an alternate route. I think it's absolutely justifiable to give players different paths to the same goal. But I don't think most players want a "timesink" path so much as they want a skill path that fairly rewards them for their skill and gives them opportunities to develop it through a progressive escalation of difficulty. And again, I think one of the oldest and most brilliant design features of video games (also supported by motivational psychology) is offering difficulty levels. Easy, Medium, Hard, Intense, or what have you. I think most players would rather work their way up to defeating an Intense encounter by practicing in Hard than to do the Easy encounter 200 times to get the reward from the Intense encounter.


Yet, even while we make that assumption, the option should still be available for those outliers that do prefer such a method. Scaling progress with difficulty. The more you push yourself to become better, the faster you advance. These kind of compromises could be available to players who want to ease their way into becoming better at the game as opposed to getting hit with a brick wall.

Five attempts to get a fight is fair. That's about what it took me for me to get a pick-up group to defeat Nael Darnus.

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So FFXIV has quested skills? If so, that makes me happy. That's something I've been begging for for years now. I suppose it's probably expecting too much that the quest narratives are actually tied in to learning the skill (like having to defeat a swordmaster to learn a new sword skill, as a generic example).


Your expectations are spot on, but not in the manner in which you might have thought.

Your Job abilities and Artifact Armors are both tied to a quest line specific to your Job. For instance, Dragoons learn of their origins, and explore a personal tale relevant to Dragoons. After each episode (one available every five levels) a new quest opens up, with a new ability to learn.

So yes, they tied Job progression into relevant storyline, though the context of the fights might not always be exactly "Fight a master Dragoon to get the next Dragoon skill" You do feel as if you're following the path of the Job. So rejoice on that end, SE got it right there.
#12 Dec 09 2012 at 2:09 AM Rating: Decent
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Getting too tired to post, and i just filled about half a page with my ramblings in one of the threads that inspired this one, but i did want to say that your discussion has been a good read (yes i read it all. i should be working. i hate you both right now.).

First, I agree with both of you that questable abilities/traits/JSE is without a doubt an engaging feature; i really hope to see more of it, and i'm flabbergasted as to why/how the FF MMOs are the only MMOs to somehow stumble across it.

Also, I tend to agree with Hyrist about the depth of GW2's trait trees and the effect they have on play style. Not to mention the high level of customization and synergy the system affords (while also avoiding 5 miles of hotbar) I really enjoyed Thief for awhile because i found a bunch of neat traits that synergize around the dodge mechanic, including one that automatically drops crippling caltrops whenever I dodge. Im a big fan of additional effects that stack onto abilities that you'd be using anyway.

As for the whole level scaling thing. Arenanet made a big to-do about how "the game IS the endgame" because, presumably after you hit 80, you're going to have all kinds of motivation to revisit low level areas that you missed. Yeah. No.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad mechanic. But you can't base your game around it, especially when there;s not much of a storyline to keep players interested. If there was an engaging story that made me revisit all those noob zones, i'd be all over it, because storyline is an effective carrot for me.

But don't get me started on GW2. They did a lot of things right, or at least with noble intentions, but in the process created something that ends up feeling like just a different flavor of bland.



Edited, Dec 9th 2012 3:12am by Llester

Edited, Dec 9th 2012 3:32am by Llester
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#13 Dec 09 2012 at 3:16 AM Rating: Decent
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Don't get me wrong, I love the trait trees. But for me, they don't offset the lack of new active abilities. And again, while some of them are great, about half of them are garbage. In fact, a lot of the abilities are garbage too. I particularly like skills with actual EFFECTS instead of boring statistical bonuses, but if you're going to include statistical bonuses, at least make them significant enough that they really do change the way the job is played. And that's my beef... most of the good skills stick out like a sore thumb because they aren't a silly 5-10% bonus to something. As a result, they tend to feel like an obvious choice. The ones you guys pointed out were things that added an effect to dodge, for example. Those are great, but they're also among the first things that leaped out at me when looking at the trait trees.

Endgame definitely NEEDS MOAR KARRITS. To me, that's the single biggest killer of the game. But I picked up on the very formulaic feel of the world very quickly, too. It was always hard to forget that I was in a Skinner box. I always knew that I was collecting carrots. And I always felt so alone in the world, even when I was surrounded by 50 other people. Even when I played with friends, we couldn't talk because if you stop to, you can't make any progress on that next carrot.
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Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#14 Dec 09 2012 at 12:42 PM Rating: Good
Hyrist wrote:
“I want to feel whole.” A common trend in RPGs, something that we have all taken for granted, is that many primary combat moves and techniques are held back from the player until late levels – leaving a player, regardless of their previous experiences in games, left with a sense of weakness they must rise up form. While originally novel, the average MMO player is no longer one that has never played MMOs before. Typically there may be one or more other games now under their belt. And the concept of starting over from scratch with nothing but mundane abilities (in contrast to the ones granted late game) to keep them occupied as they grind up the levels.

Guild Wars 2 changed the approach. The primary combat skills and combinations are available almost immediately (within the first 9 levels or so). Secondary skills, and traits, however, were granted gradually. This gave the player the feeling of empowerment and exploration at the start, and allowed the concept of progression to be established through refinement, rather than through level-gating abilities.
After pondering over the systems I believe this right now to be the best answer to the progression question – but do not think it can be implemented at this stage with A Realm Reborn.

There is, however, and alternate route and it is inspired from FFXI: The Merit System. The merit system would allow players to progress quickly up the levels required for them to have a full starter set of abilities, but the Merits itself can provide long term goals of refinement of these abilities. Between the Job Quests and the Merit system, there will be plenty of special access abilities those who want to feel the long term progression of the game to experience, but without the sacrifice of the base level of empowerment many players want to experience early in.


I was thinking on this last night and was wondering what y'all would think of this:

What if you got all WS's and abilities at level one, but they were virtually useless. Through leveling, you would basically get "merit points" that you could use to upgrade your character. For WS's, points could be used to add damage, accuracy, critical chance, and some could add status enhacements/effects. Such effects could be things like poison, stun chance, temporary lower def, etc. Abilities could have their effects enhanced, like increased enmity from Provoke, longer stealth time from Invisible, greater accuracy gain from something like Sharpshoot. Casting time could be reduced and duration could be increased also. You could also use the points to build up specific attributes, such as STR, MND, etc.

I thought this could be potentially awesome. On one hand, if I want to go full-on DD I can put points strictly into one WS and max it out, with adds to STR and DEX and max any DD abilities I wanted. This would give me tons of damage potential, but I might be suscewptible to attacks (low eva or def maybe) and my pool of WS's that actually do real damage would be constricted, by my own choices. If SE puts in a really good Skillchain system, then I could raise a few more WS's more evenly. If I don't want to be a one-hit powerhouse that gets one-shotted then I can create a more balance setup. Gear wouldn't necessarily need to change, as it would only build upon whatever stats your character already has. An all-STR and little/no-DEF DD could have a little more survivability if he had enough DEF added through his gear.

I think this would give everyone the most flexibility in creating their characters and would produce some really unique builds, since everyone is given the same stuff up front and it's up to you to build that stuff up on your own. Yes, we would do what all MMO players eventually do and start figuring out the "cookie-cutter" builds. Could be cool to be able to get a group of friends together and create some really specialized characters though.

Edited, Dec 9th 2012 2:00pm by IKickYoDog
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#15 Dec 09 2012 at 1:44 PM Rating: Good
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IKickYoDog wrote:


What if you got all WS's and abilities at level one, but they were virtually useless. Through leveling, you would basically get "merit points" that you could use to upgrade your character. For WS's, points could be used to add damage, accuracy, critical chance, and some could add status enhacements/effects. Such effects could be things like poison, stun chance, temporary lower def, etc. Abilities could have their effects enhanced, like increased enmity from Provoke, longer stealth time from Invisible, greater accuracy gain from something like Sharpshoot. Casting time could be reduced and duration could be increased also. You could also use the points to build up specific attributes, such as STR, MND, etc.

I thought this could be potentially awesome. On one hand, if I want to go full-on DD I can put points strictly into one WS and max it out, with adds to STR and DEX and max any DD abilities I wanted. This would give me tons of damage potential, but I might be suscewptible to attacks (low eva or def maybe) and my pool of WS's that actually do real damage would be constricted, by my own choices. If SE puts in a really good Skillchain system, then I could raise a few more WS's more evenly. If I don't want to be a one-hit powerhouse that gets one-shotted then I can create a more balance setup. Gear wouldn't necessarily need to change, as it would only build upon whatever stats your character already has. An all-STR and little/no-DEF DD could have a little more survivability if he had enough DEF added through his gear.

I think this would give everyone the most flexibility in creating their characters and would produce some really unique builds, since everyone is given the same stuff up front and it's up to you to build that stuff up on your own. Yes, we would do what all MMO players eventually do and start figuring out the "cookie-cutter" builds. Could be cool to be able to get a group of friends together and create some really specialized characters though.

Edited, Dec 9th 2012 2:00pm by IKickYoDog


My initial response to this, is that I'd like it,because I like customization and flexibility. I would add that, along with the backend enhancements that you mentioned, there would have to be graphical changes to reflect said enhancements, at least as far as the WS animations are concerned. Think of spell tiers, where the animation for Stone V is way more particley awesome than Stone I. They could apply something like this to weaponskills.

Like you said, the cookie cutters would still eventually prevail, but that's going to be a problem no matter what, at least until combat becomes more skill-based. But then you have the problem that GW2 tends to have. The action is too fast for meaningful social interaction. For me, this isnt a huge issue, as I don't generally need a huge social component at this point in my gaming hobby. I've become a lot more casual of a player. But it does make the game less sticky for people who aren't me.
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#16 Dec 09 2012 at 1:51 PM Rating: Decent
Part of me wonders if game developers are starting to, or will soon, expect people to be playing the game while on voice chat. I keep seeing people talk about this issue with GW2. Would that help, or is it so hectic that even push-to-talk is a hassle?
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#17 Dec 09 2012 at 4:53 PM Rating: Decent
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Since I'm someone who kinda sorta prefers a slower leveling speed I'm going to mention my reasoning.

Most games tend to make end game content the end all be all, and also the most common level for content, rightly so, but when you hit level 20, and there's a level 20 dungeon, with really good gear for a level 20, that becomes outdated once you hit 25, there's little reason to stop and do that content when I'll be able to hit lvl 25 in about 2 hours, and just buy better gear than I would have gotten from the dungeon. As someone who isn't that driven by story (not me btw), why should I take an hour of my time doing a dungeon to try to get a piece or pieces of gear that may or may not drop and I may not even be the one in the party to get the drop.

Level syncing is great, but doesn't really give much incentive to doing lower level content, other than helping out a friend.

The slower leveling makes not just lower lvl content more important, but it also makes lower lvl gear and items more important.

My suggestion would be to give a bonus to those who level multiple classes/jobs, while not entirely obstructing someone who is power leveling a single class to max. For example, how about for every class that you have at every 10 level intervals, your character receives a 5% exp bonus for every other class except the current class?

As a Lancer, if I had CNJ, MRD both at level 10, I would receive a 10% bonus to experience, if MRD and CNJ at level 20, I would receive a 20% bonus to exp for every other class. If I had MRD at 50, CNJ at 30-39, and THM at 20-29, I would receive 50% bonus to every other class.

Slowing down leveling makes everything not at cap more important, whether it's content, zones, enemies, gear. With the way the trends going now, we may as well just remove levels altogether.
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#18 Dec 09 2012 at 5:49 PM Rating: Decent
The exp bonus is interesting. You'd have to slow down the leveling process overall, around ffxi speed I'm guessing, but if you level some jobs more evenly than you speed your process up considerably. I wonder how slow it would need to be up front, hopefully not so slow that it discourages new players. Would definitely need a cap to how much bonus you could gain so that you're not basically power leveling yourself.

If you want to make lvl 20 dungeon gear more relevant, than that equipment is going to need some serious longevity, and a leveling process where you can't get from lvl 20-25 in a couple hours. I don't think I like the idea of making it take longer to get to endgame (which most people seem to want to do) just to give more sense of relevance to a dungeon or quest that is by default made to be outgrown.
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Rafoot - Asura (Formerly of Lakshmi (Garuda)) - THF SAM BRD
#19 Dec 09 2012 at 7:43 PM Rating: Excellent
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This is a topic (group of topics rather) that I've thought quite a bit about.

It was alluded to earlier, but, if you make leveling quick and offer a level 20 dungeon, no one will do it, as the time spent getting a party together & fumbling through the dungeon in a PUG would have been better spent by getting to level 23 and opening up a new set of gear. I think this was one of the truly incredible things FFXI did. It was a completely different sort of gear treadmill.

SWTOR/GW2/WoW introduce an entirely new gear set every few levels, which outclasses your previous set completely. Also, if your leveling quick, why invest in +1 gear, when in 2 levels you can buy nq gear that's better?

This is what FFXI 'cured' by offering items throughout the leveling process that were difficult to obtain, but were certainly status symbols and allowed you to rock that item for months and in some cases, were elite till expansions came out. For example, in the early years, it wasn't uncommon to see lvl 60+ thiefs wearing a emporess hairpin/LLboots and macro in a rabbit charm. Same goes for a WAR/SAM etc. who ground out a pair of sniper rings @ 40. These were status symbols, that you could hang your hat on and be proud of .

By incoporating such items, you give reason to the leveling process. Heck, with expansions, FFXI put even more emphasis on this, with having to go back and get your lvl 50 swift belt. These were great things. Yes it was a pain sometimes, but the next time you leveled a characted to 50 and you had that waiting for you @ the 'ding', it was a great feeling. This is something that I feel all current MMO's lack. There's no attachment to your items, it's simply a place holder for the next 2 levels when the next generic piece of armour will be ready.As opposed to making you work a little harder, but getting a piece of armour that will stick with you for the next 20/30/40 levels (aka atleast in the early going of FFXI 1-6 months).
#20 Dec 09 2012 at 8:00 PM Rating: Decent
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IKickYoDog wrote:
I was thinking on this last night and was wondering what y'all would think of this:

What if you got all WS's and abilities at level one, but they were virtually useless. Through leveling, you would basically get "merit points" that you could use to upgrade your character. For WS's, points could be used to add damage, accuracy, critical chance, and some could add status enhacements/effects. Such effects could be things like poison, stun chance, temporary lower def, etc. Abilities could have their effects enhanced, like increased enmity from Provoke, longer stealth time from Invisible, greater accuracy gain from something like Sharpshoot. Casting time could be reduced and duration could be increased also. You could also use the points to build up specific attributes, such as STR, MND, etc.

I thought this could be potentially awesome. On one hand, if I want to go full-on DD I can put points strictly into one WS and max it out, with adds to STR and DEX and max any DD abilities I wanted. This would give me tons of damage potential, but I might be suscewptible to attacks (low eva or def maybe) and my pool of WS's that actually do real damage would be constricted, by my own choices. If SE puts in a really good Skillchain system, then I could raise a few more WS's more evenly. If I don't want to be a one-hit powerhouse that gets one-shotted then I can create a more balance setup. Gear wouldn't necessarily need to change, as it would only build upon whatever stats your character already has. An all-STR and little/no-DEF DD could have a little more survivability if he had enough DEF added through his gear.

I think this would give everyone the most flexibility in creating their characters and would produce some really unique builds, since everyone is given the same stuff up front and it's up to you to build that stuff up on your own. Yes, we would do what all MMO players eventually do and start figuring out the "cookie-cutter" builds. Could be cool to be able to get a group of friends together and create some really specialized characters though.


It's a feature which allows players to make choices about their character. So, it's great. Lots of successful games use similar features, and I think this would be relatively easy to implement for FFXIV, and among their better options. I especially like that it starts you off with several skills to play with, and you have some idea of what their purpose is. This helps direct goal-setting, which is important for player engagement. It also provides plenty of opportunities for horizontal advancement.

Balance is always the tricky thing with systems like these. Scratch that, it's historically been tricky for companies like SE. It's not at all hard to adjust a number in the code to make something that sucks, because it generates a 10% effect, and turn it into a 25% effect.

The main thing you have to figure out is how you're going to let players change their configurations. That too, is a balancing act.

Quote:
Part of me wonders if game developers are starting to, or will soon, expect people to be playing the game while on voice chat. I keep seeing people talk about this issue with GW2. Would that help, or is it so hectic that even push-to-talk is a hassle?


It might work for some games, some day. But at the moment, it's a disaster. Players don't want to be forced to voice chat. ******** ruin the community. (It's harder to moderate, too.) It probably would have helped party play in GW2. The problem with GW2 is that you rarely form an actual party. You almost never need to. And the dynamic events are free-for-all. Global chat would include about 50 people in your immediate area.

I wouldn't necessarily call GW2 hectic. The combat is fast paced but doesn't really keep you on your toes. It's just enough to keep you on your hotbar. It still requires very little skill-- you just have to pay attention.

Quote:
The slower leveling makes not just lower lvl content more important, but it also makes lower lvl gear and items more important.

My suggestion would be to give a bonus to those who level multiple classes/jobs, while not entirely obstructing someone who is power leveling a single class to max. For example, how about for every class that you have at every 10 level intervals, your character receives a 5% exp bonus for every other class except the current class?


Your first statement is true of vertical advancement, but doesn't necessarily have to be true of horizontal advancement. To clarify the terms, vertical advancements are statistical bonuses. Once you get to 20, something with 10 has no value. Horizontal advancement is improving flexibility. It's getting a skill or trait that has an irreplaceable value. The problem with most games, FFXI/XIV being no exception, is that they haven't designed the system with enough "width" to allow for much horizontal advancement. Width is the degree to which features fulfill a unique purpose. It's each stat, HP/MP/TP, status effects, movement effects, etc... The more multidimensional the game is, the more opportunities there are for horizontal advancement. But it requires significant creativity to add width to a game. For example, they can add any number of stats, like Popularity, HP Bar #2, Smelliness... but those have to make sense within the game, and fulfill a specific purpose. And that in itself isn't hard to do, but designers get too stuck in the paradigm that we have now, which was designed for table-top games (which have many other opportunities for horizontal advancement and/or a significant roleplay element) and extended to RPGs (which are short-play experiences), but doesn't work well for MMORPGs.

But for your suggestion that follows, I think it's a good one (I suggested the same thing for FFXI). Too much of the gameplay experience was redundant to not give some sort of leveling speed bonus to players who were going through the content a third, fourth, and even tenth time.
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Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#21 Dec 09 2012 at 8:17 PM Rating: Decent
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Ridinger wrote:
This is a topic (group of topics rather) that I've thought quite a bit about.

It was alluded to earlier, but, if you make leveling quick and offer a level 20 dungeon, no one will do it, as the time spent getting a party together & fumbling through the dungeon in a PUG would have been better spent by getting to level 23 and opening up a new set of gear. I think this was one of the truly incredible things FFXI did. It was a completely different sort of gear treadmill.

SWTOR/GW2/WoW introduce an entirely new gear set every few levels, which outclasses your previous set completely. Also, if your leveling quick, why invest in +1 gear, when in 2 levels you can buy nq gear that's better?

This is what FFXI 'cured' by offering items throughout the leveling process that were difficult to obtain, but were certainly status symbols and allowed you to rock that item for months and in some cases, were elite till expansions came out. For example, in the early years, it wasn't uncommon to see lvl 60+ thiefs wearing a emporess hairpin/LLboots and macro in a rabbit charm. Same goes for a WAR/SAM etc. who ground out a pair of sniper rings @ 40. These were status symbols, that you could hang your hat on and be proud of .

By incoporating such items, you give reason to the leveling process. Heck, with expansions, FFXI put even more emphasis on this, with having to go back and get your lvl 50 swift belt. These were great things. Yes it was a pain sometimes, but the next time you leveled a characted to 50 and you had that waiting for you @ the 'ding', it was a great feeling. This is something that I feel all current MMO's lack. There's no attachment to your items, it's simply a place holder for the next 2 levels when the next generic piece of armour will be ready.As opposed to making you work a little harder, but getting a piece of armour that will stick with you for the next 20/30/40 levels (aka atleast in the early going of FFXI 1-6 months).


This was something that FFXI accidentally did sort of ok. They obviously didn't put a lot of forethought into equipment design, and even in expansions they created gear that was completely useless and a waste of development time. There were NMs that had Peacock Charms and then there were those that had useless drops. Then there were really cheap items that were great and really hard to acquire items that were worthless. As a whole, the item progression really had all indications of thoughtful design of someone who was bad at darts. It worked out ok because, like you say, these hard to get items were status symbols that were useful for a long time.

Had they emphasized more horizontal advancement, they could have not only made much better use of their content, but they could have done away with that annoying gear-swapping trend. The gear-swapping is an excellent example of horizontal advancement. There is no "best" piece of equipment for a slot usually... it depends on the ability that you're using. Let's say they shut down equipment swapping altogether (just for the sake of showing how it isn't necessary and you can still achieve the same effect). Now, they introduce a new piece of equipment, which we'll just call grids. Grids work the exact same way as the equipment grid in every MMO-- there are slots that you put stat-enhancing items into. You can switch grids at anytime in battle, significantly changing your attributes. Maybe you have a a grid for STR-based weaponskills, one for MP recovery, even an anti-poison grid.

The grids themselves can even be a type of vertical enhancement where you get better grids with more slots, or horizontal advancement.

The way I envisioned this, the drops you'd go after would be more like materia than always seeking new equipment. Too bad I understand they did something else with materia in XIV.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#22 Dec 09 2012 at 8:43 PM Rating: Decent
Didn't FFXI use some sort of random stat generator for some of their gear?
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Rafoot - Asura (Formerly of Lakshmi (Garuda)) - THF SAM BRD
#23 Dec 09 2012 at 8:54 PM Rating: Decent
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No, they were all the same. Shortly before I quit they started implementing some system with random stats on specific weapons that you could power up, I think. Then there was a random element in crafting to get HQ versions with slightly better stats, but a +1 was always a +1. But generally, stats were fixed.

Edit: Oh, so yes, for some of their gear, I think they did. But I think that's less than 1% of the gear.

Edited, Dec 9th 2012 6:55pm by Kachi
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#24 Dec 09 2012 at 9:00 PM Rating: Good
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IKickYoDog wrote:
Didn't FFXI use some sort of random stat generator for some of their gear?


Some items can be augmented randomly. 99% of the time the result is a piece of crap. 1% of the time it becomes Best Item In Its Slot - the 14% cure potency with +1 refresh Fascia Bliaut turns a SMN from half a white mage to 3/4 of one.
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#25 Dec 09 2012 at 9:46 PM Rating: Decent
catwho wrote:
IKickYoDog wrote:
Didn't FFXI use some sort of random stat generator for some of their gear?


Some items can be augmented randomly. 99% of the time the result is a piece of crap. 1% of the time it becomes Best Item In Its Slot - the 14% cure potency with +1 refresh Fascia Bliaut turns a SMN from half a white mage to 3/4 of one.


Ya I was there for the augmenting stuff. Got a -1 STR +12 water on a Hagun... Hated that system.
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Rafoot - Asura (Formerly of Lakshmi (Garuda)) - THF SAM BRD
#26 Dec 10 2012 at 3:03 AM Rating: Excellent
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Kachi wrote:


You can then have a few extremely difficult "elite" encounters that require significant skill. These can be for your relic weapons and whatnot. They give players something to aspire to without restricting the majority of the content to .


No, no no. Cause if you do this you get the balance problem you see in XI where all the new content is balanced against relic level weapon holders and people who want to play just once in awhile and aren't into 1000 hour grind super weapons are locked out of content.

Make high level weapons, sure, but make them reasonably accessible to all so that content can be properly balanced. Oherwise, the most hardcore get those weapons, then complain all the content is too easy and it messes up the game for everyone else.
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#27 Dec 10 2012 at 4:20 AM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:
Kachi wrote:


You can then have a few extremely difficult "elite" encounters that require significant skill. These can be for your relic weapons and whatnot. They give players something to aspire to without restricting the majority of the content to .


No, no no. Cause if you do this you get the balance problem you see in XI where all the new content is balanced against relic level weapon holders and people who want to play just once in awhile and aren't into 1000 hour grind super weapons are locked out of content.

Make high level weapons, sure, but make them reasonably accessible to all so that content can be properly balanced. Oherwise, the most hardcore get those weapons, then complain all the content is too easy and it messes up the game for everyone else.


It seems like you may have been reading that out of context. If the content is tuned to have multiple difficulty levels (which is what I was talking about), then no one is locked out of content. They may be unable to defeat the elite encounters, but there will be slightly less challenging versions that they can do. All of this also assumes that there is no significant grinding to earn the relic weapons. They're purely a matter of skill. In other words, the statistical bonuses of the relic weapons shouldn't even be the thing which really determines the challenge.

Moreover, we're talking about game design here, sort of in the sense of "what we would do if we were the game designers"... so if the problem is that the designers are tuning the balance to the most elite players, then the obvious answer is to not do that.

Edited, Dec 10th 2012 2:20am by Kachi
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#28 Dec 10 2012 at 9:12 AM Rating: Decent
If we have skill-scaling content, then do we also have skill-scaling gear? Doesn't make sense to fight Bahamut Nightmare - Mode if he drops the same +99 Everything breastplate in Easy Mode. And if the gear is scaling, then that would defeat the purpose of making things accessible to eveyone, since some/most casuals wouldn't have the group necessary to beat Nightmare - Mode.
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Rafoot - Asura (Formerly of Lakshmi (Garuda)) - THF SAM BRD
#29 Dec 10 2012 at 10:22 AM Rating: Good
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IKickYoDog wrote:
If we have skill-scaling content, then do we also have skill-scaling gear? Doesn't make sense to fight Bahamut Nightmare - Mode if he drops the same +99 Everything breastplate in Easy Mode. And if the gear is scaling, then that would defeat the purpose of making things accessible to eveyone, since some/most casuals wouldn't have the group necessary to beat Nightmare - Mode.


XI has been doing this with their Neo Nyzul Isle and Dynamis II content. Regular Dynamis Lord drops all his old goodies. Arch Dynamis Lord, which is much harder, drops an entirely different set of gear and goodies (I have the glowy sword Sagasinger from him.) Old Nyzul Isle still drops the same gear and weapons it always has. NNI drops stuff to upgrade the old gear as well as new, unique items. NNI is also currently one of the hardest dungeons in the game.
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I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest and Taprara Rara on Lamia Server - Member of The Swarm
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#30 Dec 10 2012 at 10:46 AM Rating: Decent
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IKickYoDog wrote:
If we have skill-scaling content, then do we also have skill-scaling gear? Doesn't make sense to fight Bahamut Nightmare - Mode if he drops the same +99 Everything breastplate in Easy Mode. And if the gear is scaling, then that would defeat the purpose of making things accessible to eveyone, since some/most casuals wouldn't have the group necessary to beat Nightmare - Mode.


I think it's only natural that there's some skill-scaling gear, but there doesn't have to be, and there doesn't have to be a lot of it. There can be other rewards for harder modes... higher drop rates, cosmetic bonuses, achievements, cash prizes, etc... But I think you're missing the point. The idea isn't to make all EQUIPMENT immediately accessible to anyone who shows up to the fight. The idea is to make the BATTLE accessible to anyone who wants to try it. And then as you master Medium Mode, you progress to Hard Mode. And then you progress to Nightmare Mode. It makes beating the hardest mode more accessible by giving you the opportunities to practice and become more skilled. Given fair enough stats, any group can defeat any mob in FFXI with enough practice. Rather than timesinks which artifically bottleneck the fight, players spend more of their time in event battles learning to beat them.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#31 Dec 10 2012 at 4:52 PM Rating: Excellent
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Kachi wrote:
All of this also assumes that there is no significant grinding to earn the relic weapons. They're purely a matter of skill.


First, from what I saw, there is -already- significant grinding involved in XIV relics.

Second, I don't know if you've read neo-nyzul... but SE considers that event to be about "skill"

What that means... is instead of dealing with RNG in the drop rates, THE ENTIRE EVENT IS RNG.

I shudder to think about how SE would implement "skill based" content, cause all indications are that they consider "dealing with rng" to be the main skill in any game.
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lolgaxe wrote:
When it comes to sitting around not doing anything for long periods of time, only being active for short windows, and marginal changes and sidegrades I'd say FFXI players were the perfect choice for politicians.


#32 Dec 10 2012 at 10:21 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:
Kachi wrote:
All of this also assumes that there is no significant grinding to earn the relic weapons. They're purely a matter of skill.


First, from what I saw, there is -already- significant grinding involved in XIV relics.

Second, I don't know if you've read neo-nyzul... but SE considers that event to be about "skill"

What that means... is instead of dealing with RNG in the drop rates, THE ENTIRE EVENT IS RNG.

I shudder to think about how SE would implement "skill based" content, cause all indications are that they consider "dealing with rng" to be the main skill in any game.


You're sort of forming an argument around a discussion that isn't taking place, is what I'm trying to say. Again, this is a discussion about game design theory. What SE actually does or would do isn't really relevant. You're talking about realities specific to SE; we're talking about generalized game design ideals that apply to all MMOs.

So, for example, if there is already significant grinding in XIV relics, the answer I offer is to get rid of it. I can do that in this discussion because we're talking about what we believe to be elements of good game design. I don't know much about Neo-Nyzul, but getting lucky with the RNG is obviously not the same thing as skill, and that's why I wouldn't use that as the primary determinant of success.

Actually, one of the great things about trying to implement varying difficulty levels is that it is a good way to help designers tease out where the skill is supposed to come from. However, I completely agree with your assessment that SE as a whole doesn't seem to understand that creating a numerical and statistical disadvantage for players does not necessarily add skill to the game.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#33 Dec 11 2012 at 2:02 AM Rating: Excellent
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Kachi wrote:
IKickYoDog wrote:
If we have skill-scaling content, then do we also have skill-scaling gear? Doesn't make sense to fight Bahamut Nightmare - Mode if he drops the same +99 Everything breastplate in Easy Mode. And if the gear is scaling, then that would defeat the purpose of making things accessible to eveyone, since some/most casuals wouldn't have the group necessary to beat Nightmare - Mode.


I think it's only natural that there's some skill-scaling gear, but there doesn't have to be, and there doesn't have to be a lot of it.

I think the point would still stand. If you have progression content, the gear rewarded from nightmare would obsolete any content(in terms of difficulty at least) that didn't also scale. This is the reason why all dungeons and raids have normal/heroic modes in WoW and the reason why the progression there works.
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Its personal preference and all, but yes we need to educate WoW players that this is OUR game, these are Characters and not Toons. Time to beat that into them one at a time.
#34 Dec 11 2012 at 2:45 AM Rating: Decent
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Well yeah, most things would have to scale. But scaling content isn't particularly difficult. The point is, the nightmare mode is accessible to everyone, and everyone has the practice opportunities to be able to take on the nightmare mode. So if they don't do it, it's just a choice that they make, rather than a bottleneck which forces them to choose between "not trying at all" or "spending dozens or even hundreds of hours to prepare for a chance to beat it".

But as for making lower content obsolete, not really. In a well-balanced reward system, beating a few nightmare encounters doesn't suddenly make every hard-mode encounter a cakewalk. Particularly if horizontal enhancement is emphasized, but even if it's vertical, the fact that the nightmare drop has 2 more damage than the hard mode drop is incentive enough for hardcore players to pursue it without giving them a game-breaking advantage. You saw it in FFXI all the time... gear with +1 ACC more than the next lowest piece would fetch hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of gil.

Obviously as you start to earn better rewards, things become progressively easier, but that's the practically the definitive element of MMORPGs.
____________________________
Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#35 Dec 11 2012 at 5:53 AM Rating: Good
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Kachi wrote:
Well yeah, most things would have to scale. But scaling content isn't particularly difficult. The point is, the nightmare mode is accessible to everyone, and everyone has the practice opportunities to be able to take on the nightmare mode. So if they don't do it, it's just a choice that they make, rather than a bottleneck which forces them to choose between "not trying at all" or "spending dozens or even hundreds of hours to prepare for a chance to beat it".


I'm trying to understand what would encourage people to attempt a nightmare mode without first having attempted the lesser versions to get a better understanding of the mechanics of an encounter. Given that most people would probably start in a normal mode, why wouldn't they complete it several times for the gear and item upgrades before moving on to face the tougher challenges?
Kachi wrote:
But as for making lower content obsolete, not really. In a well-balanced reward system, beating a few nightmare encounters doesn't suddenly make every hard-mode encounter a cakewalk.

Attempting, clearing and gearing from a nightmare mode should obsolete it's normal mode in progression.

Clear normal content > unlock harder content > clear harder content > unlock nightmare content > clear nightmare content

CMIIW, but this would be how it's supposed to work, no? By definition, progression calls for some sort of hurdle to be cleared(whether it's gear related or by clearing content to unlock further content). Just having nightmare unlocked doesn't really fit the mold. The fact that you have to clear before you move on is the key element missing here.
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Rinsui wrote:
Only hips + boobs all day and hips + boobs all over my icecream

HaibaneRenmei wrote:
30 bucks is almost free

cocodojo wrote:
Its personal preference and all, but yes we need to educate WoW players that this is OUR game, these are Characters and not Toons. Time to beat that into them one at a time.
#36 Dec 11 2012 at 6:34 AM Rating: Decent
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Kachi wrote:
You saw it in FFXI all the time... gear with +1 ACC more than the next lowest piece would fetch hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of gil.


FFXI's gearing system is hardly the model I'd want future games to follow.
#37 Dec 11 2012 at 9:32 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
I'm trying to understand what would encourage people to attempt a nightmare mode without first having attempted the lesser versions to get a better understanding of the mechanics of an encounter. Given that most people would probably start in a normal mode, why wouldn't they complete it several times for the gear and item upgrades before moving on to face the tougher challenges?


They probably wouldn't unless they were really confident or felt that it was a waste of time. For example, maybe the Hard mode drops a +3 INT buff for one slot, and the Nightmare mode drops a +4 INT buff for the same slot. It's not necessarily a given that the easier modes will perfectly prepare you for the harder ones, either... there can be variations on the event that make it more than a mere statistical difference.

That aside, is there some reason that they shouldn't do normal before attempting the nightmare mode? That's well within the intended design of the system.

Quote:
Attempting, clearing and gearing from a nightmare mode should obsolete it's normal mode in progression.

Clear normal content > unlock harder content > clear harder content > unlock nightmare content > clear nightmare content

CMIIW, but this would be how it's supposed to work, no? By definition, progression calls for some sort of hurdle to be cleared(whether it's gear related or by clearing content to unlock further content). Just having nightmare unlocked doesn't really fit the mold. The fact that you have to clear before you move on is the key element missing here.


Perhaps I've misunderstood your original point. Basically, yes, that's how it would work for each individual event. So if you've cleared the nightmare mode of a battle, there's little/no value in clearing the lower level versions of the battle, at least insofar as the vertical progression elements unique to that encounter are concerned. You originally said:

Quote:
f we have skill-scaling content, then do we also have skill-scaling gear? Doesn't make sense to fight Bahamut Nightmare - Mode if he drops the same +99 Everything breastplate in Easy Mode. And if the gear is scaling, then that would defeat the purpose of making things accessible to eveyone, since some/most casuals wouldn't have the group necessary to beat Nightmare - Mode.


And my answer to that is, no, Bahamut Easy does not drop (all of) the same gear as Bahamut Nightmare. And no, casuals will still be able to eventually beat Bahamut Nightmare because they can practice over and over in the easier modes until they stand a fair chance in the harder ones. Or they can just keep trying in the harder mode, but either way, the point is: It's accessible because they can beat the fight at SOME difficulty level, and they can attempt the fight at any level.

Edit; And the reason this was brought up was in contrast to the events in FFXI which severely bottleneck many of the encounters. For example, you have to outclaim competing LSs to fight certain monsters. Or you have to farm for pop items for long periods of time. The value of the proposed system is that there's very little artificial restriction to accessing content like these.

Viertel wrote:
Kachi wrote:
You saw it in FFXI all the time... gear with +1 ACC more than the next lowest piece would fetch hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of gil.


FFXI's gearing system is hardly the model I'd want future games to follow.


As I've stated elsewhere, FFXI's gearing system was atrocious, and had all the design elegance of monkey's playing darts. Don't confuse me using FFXI to demonstrate how hardcore players behave as an endorsement of that aspect of FFXI. I was simply showing that hardcore players are motivated to pursue gear that's even only slightly better than their current gear, meaning that it's possible to give them access to the best gear while at the same time not making them horrendously overpowered compared to casual players.

Edited, Dec 11th 2012 7:34am by Kachi
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#38 Dec 11 2012 at 10:07 AM Rating: Decent
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Kachi wrote:
That aside, is there some reason that they shouldn't do normal before attempting the nightmare mode? That's well within the intended design of the system.


It isn't that they shouldn't, but that the natural path of progression is clearing A unlocks B, B unlocks C and so on. If you didn't need to clear A, why not just move on to C if it offers better reward and a more challenging experience.

Kachi wrote:
Perhaps I've misunderstood your original point. Basically, yes, that's how it would work for each individual event. So if you've cleared the nightmare mode of a battle, there's little/no value in clearing the lower level versions of the battle, at least insofar as the vertical progression elements unique to that encounter are concerned. You originally said:

The only way I see it working out is for SE to release the content separately. If you release the normal and hardmode content at the same time with no barrier to entry, most people are going to skip out on the normal version.

I don't think what you quoted following this post was from me.
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Rinsui wrote:
Only hips + boobs all day and hips + boobs all over my icecream

HaibaneRenmei wrote:
30 bucks is almost free

cocodojo wrote:
Its personal preference and all, but yes we need to educate WoW players that this is OUR game, these are Characters and not Toons. Time to beat that into them one at a time.
#39 Dec 11 2012 at 11:51 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:

It isn't that they shouldn't, but that the natural path of progression is clearing A unlocks B, B unlocks C and so on. If you didn't need to clear A, why not just move on to C if it offers better reward and a more challenging experience.


Ah, I see what you mean. Well, assuming all other things are done well, I don't think it particularly matters if you need to clear A to get to B, etc. My preference would be that there is generally no such requirement, and if you want to skip straight to the Nightmare mode, then you can. The reasons why you wouldn't would be that you simply weren't ready to beat it yet. Why waste time jumping into Nightmare mode on your first attempt, knowing that you'll probably just lose, when you could beat the Hard mode and get something for your time? It's a calculation for the player to make. But again, I don't think it especially matters if you make them progress through two or three levels. Either system has its pros and cons.

Quote:
The only way I see it working out is for SE to release the content separately. If you release the normal and hardmode content at the same time with no barrier to entry, most people are going to skip out on the normal version.

I don't think what you quoted following this post was from me.


Sorry about that. I guess that's where this conversation turned confusing.

Yeah, and again, it really just matters how hard the hard mode is. I can see people skipping out on the easier modes, even if they spend all day failing the hard mode 20 times and not really achieving anything they couldn't do by winning 20 normal modes. I don't have a problem with requiring that the easier mode is beaten before the hardest mode is unlocked, as long as it doesn't require the players to beat multiple versions of the event before getting to the one that really challenges them. You also don't want to force your more skilled players to play through the content on two or three modes that are way too easy for them before challenging them. Of course, you can always design a more elaborate access system, say... you have to fight through Hard unless you've cleared 10 Nightmare modes.

It's a balancing act that I don't think has a particularly meaningful "correct" answer. You just pick one and do the best you can by it.

Edited, Dec 11th 2012 9:52am by Kachi
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#40 Dec 11 2012 at 4:05 PM Rating: Good
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Speaking briefly. I believe the 'Nightmare' versions of loot drops should not overshadow the lesser versions of the weapons, but rather serve as the +1 versions of said weapons. These weapons can unique stats an effects to consiter them a trophy above the norm, but not to the point that those that possess them look down upon those who've gone through the effort to possess their norms. Weapons of lower difficulties, obtained through progressive methods rather than the so-called 'skill' based methods should still be comparable. Otherwise, power-creep will effectively divide the player-base against itself again.

At no given time, should a player who comes upon the decision to make the step from casual game-play (Playing on Normal and Moderate difficulties), to dedicated game-play (Attempting Hard Mode), should be dissuaded to do so on account of the gear he has collected through casual play, unless his gear was sub-par for casual play as well. This would be terrible game design if it became the case.

Prestige can be achieved on an achievement basis, rather than an acquisition basis.

This is why weapons such as the Relics that were in 1.xx were only moderately better than other high-end weapons. It is also why gear stats in ARR is supposed to be muted down in terms of significance in comparison to 1.xx. They're essentially wanting to make it a more skill-based, and less gear-based game.

Put bluntly, they want it so that if a Grand-Company Dragoon and a Relic Dragoon met against each other in combat, that Relic Dragoon will still be in danger of losing, even if he has a slight stat advantage.
#41 Dec 11 2012 at 7:55 PM Rating: Excellent
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Hyrist wrote:
Speaking briefly. I believe the 'Nightmare' versions of loot drops should not overshadow the lesser versions of the weapons, but rather serve as the +1 versions of said weapons. These weapons can unique stats an effects to consiter them a trophy above the norm, but not to the point that those that possess them look down upon those who've gone through the effort to possess their norms. Weapons of lower difficulties, obtained through progressive methods rather than the so-called 'skill' based methods should still be comparable. Otherwise, power-creep will effectively divide the player-base against itself again.


The same could be said for craftable items. In FFXI, those who didn't have the in-game funds for rare +1 gear (that crafters had the monetary incentive to keep trying for) at least had a heap of cheap clearance-priced Normal Quality items from failed High Quality attempts to choose from. And the NQ gear was nearly as good as HQ gear so anyone using it was not that far behind the premium gear players, sometimes at less than 1% the cost in extreme cases. That meant that even someone who could not play as hardcore as was necessary for the very best gear in every slot could still have a seat at the table for any endgame events since they could still be effective in their role.

I think FFXIV might be diverging from that formula a bit with their materia slot gear since failed ultra rare multi-slot attempts don't result in a lesser version, but complete destruction, leaving no nearly-as-good dregs for the vast casual crowd. And someone who decides to give up this ultra rare gear for something better could just as easily convert it to materia, potentially eliminating second hand sales of the good stuff. One wonders how they will make up for that gap or if they are (unintentionally?) creating a barrier to entry for teaming up with hardcore players who will be so far ahead of the average player.
#42 Dec 12 2012 at 3:29 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
One wonders how they will make up for that gap or if they are (unintentionally?) creating a barrier to entry for teaming up with hardcore players who will be so far ahead of the average player.


Knowing SE, my guess is the latter Smiley: lol Unintentional design outcomes seem to be their forte.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
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