I'd like to touch on the subject of rewards, especially in the context of new content and the playerbase's reluctance to engage with it. This is a subject I've wanted to discuss for a while now, but I haven't really found the time to elaborate on my thoughts so that I could say it in a way that didn't just sound like whining or asking for more.
The Achaean development team (both programmers and content developers) have created some fantastic new additions in recent years. We've seen some of the most well written areas, large and inspired stories, and interesting PvE encounters the game's ever had. However, the vast majority of these new additions stand absolutely derelict, completely abandoned and ignored by the playerbase. Scant few people visit Yggdrasil for questing or hunting, virtually nobody does forays anymore, and the Underworld may as well still not exist. Entire mechanics were written for the Underworld, with the faction changing quests, that haven't even been activated by the players. And honestly, I think there is only one reason why any of this is true.
I think Achaea has a fundamental problem with rewarding play, and it has made active strides to become less rewarding as time goes on. I think this problem has two root causes. The first root cause is the encroachment of promotional items upon potential rewards' territory, and the inherent need for there to be desirable cash items to drive revenue. The second root cause is Achaea's economy, which lacks resource sinks but has a relative bounty of resource faucets. Not just limited to gold, but commodities and curatives as well.
The first one is probably the biggest offender in my view. We all understand that Achaea, as the F2P game that it is, very much needs a source of revenue. However, that said, how often has the talisman system been used for promotional items that unquestionably should have been gameplay rewards? The Yggdrasil talisman set should have been rewards from various activities on Yggdrasil. And it sort of has become that, with certain quests rewarding quest-sourced talisman pieces, but that's limited to only the top half of the Yggdrasil set; none of the good or desirable pieces can actually be obtained this way, and what pieces can be obtained are obtained at a very slow and staggered rate. The Underworld set should have been rewards for engaging in Underworld quests, yet it was given entirely as promo material instead and is unobtainable otherwise. How many players would fill the Underworld if playing there had a chance to give Underworld pieces? Even the people who completed the sets would still go there for additional sets to sell, just like elder dragons still farm dragon pieces to sell to others. Honestly, I think the fate of the talisman system as a whole has been a travesty of missed potential that was directly caused by shortsighted greed. An opportunity for long-term player engagement was sacrificed for short-term sales. I don't really know how to put that more politely, and I certainly understand the need for sales from Achaea's side, but I think they've missed the mark here in a big way.
As for the second root cause, Achaea's economy is a bit of a mess right now that I'm not sure how to approach properly. I have no delusions of complete understanding of game economies, there's a reason that companies spend top dollar on actual economists to help develop their MMO economies - it's a very complex problem that takes some serious skill to balance. Still, as far as I can tell, Achaea's economy is stagnant and inflationary. There's fairly little to actively sink resources out of the economy, and the biggest sinks that exist are mostly passive and unengaging things like mining, city upkeep, and warehouses. There's a few big ticket items like ships, but once purchased those never go away, and with a playerbase as small as Achaea's that means they have eventually dried up as gold sinks. Cities have city upgrades as a resource sink, and there's a smattering of resource sinks for things like jewellery, enchanting, and tailoring. Stone's probably got the best sink with housing credits. But none of it really adds up to be ... enough. The only reason we're not absolutely flooded with an overabundance of commodities is because people are mechanically restricted from hoarding massive stockpiles of it, which while it does act as a bandaid isn't a complete solution. Similarly, gold doesn't have enough uses to be in high enough demand for people to seek it out actively.
So, none of this is really new talk, but while the admin have certainly made strides in other areas I think this is one area they've left to the wayside, and I feel like that's a mistake. I hate seeing awesome content come out and just be summarily ignored because it's not rewarding. Well, worse than not rewarding - challenging content actively punishes you for failing at it, with time being lost for no reward and coming out negative in experience. That same time spent on any of the activities that do reward you, even in a small way, are infinitely superior value propositions to the players, and so that's where you see people spend their time.
Since no internet criticism would be complete without a proposed solution from a perspective with only half the information, I'd like to offer my solution to the first problem I mentioned. I think the talisman system was a golden ticket to making content rewarding for players that was dumped without giving it the chance it needed. I understand how enticing it is as an avenue for monetisation, since obviously it's a system that was primed for that sort of thing, but I think the way it was done was shortsighted and left free players out in the cold. To solve that, I'd steal a solution straight from Warframe, and anyone who's played it will likely recognize what I'm referring to. I wouldn't remove talismans as promo rewards - they're obviously a valuable thing to have there for people who want to spend the money and get something immediately. Instead, I'd bump them all up to needing level 7 pieces instead of level 1 pieces, and make caches give level 7 promo pieces instead of level 1s. I'd make the relevant gameplay content give level 1 pieces at a reliable rate - questing in both Yggdrasil and Underworld would give pieces with regularity, and pieces from the entire set instead of just a small subset. Regularity is key here, so that even failure in an area gives a trickle of rewards, so maybe the numbers would need to be tweaked from level 7s so that a constant rewarding trickle wouldn't finish someone's set very quickly. Make these quest talisman pieces redeemable for gold, and reduce the straight gold drops from quests and kills to compensate. Finally, I would make completing a talisman take a significant amount of real time, scaling with the amount of promo pieces used to complete it, and with a sizable credit option to rush completion. For example, if a full quest-sourced talisman took 4 RL days to finish making, but could be rushed to completion for a small fraction of the talisman's total worth in credits. This makes everything from both sets obtainable in game, even at a significant grind, but still obtainable. Those who want to spend, but can't spend as much as the big spenders can, still have a way to get the things they want quicker than those who don't want to or can't spend at all. Ultimately, it means all content becomes available to everyone, and those that pay get it significantly faster and with significantly less effort. It also would add more things moving and trading between players, which is pretty important in any multiplayer economy. With that system in place, I'd also turn all of the Foray talismans into permanent items with a cooldown on use, instead of consumable items that are impossible to complete and once completed have a serious, serious case of Elixir-syndrome.
I feel like I've missed a lot and left a lot out from this post, but it's already too long and I'm more keen on striking up a discussion about how to improve things than just spewing opinions all over the place and crying doom and gloom. Ultimately, I just really hate seeing all this cool content we've been getting being abandoned so quickly.
The soul of Ashmond says, "Always with the sniping."
(Clan): Ictinus says, "Stop it Jiraishin, you're making me like you."
Dunn tells you, "I hate you."
(Party): You say, "Bad plan coming right up."
The content is amazing, the stuff in the tree is fantastic but I don't go looking for it as the challenge is more an annoying grind that separates me from the player base than something j want to spend time doing. I actually shouted "For fuck sake" when Armali showed me how go access the new Angel place. Just what we need, more areas we need to jump through hoops to access.
The reward for going to these places is frustation and isolation. Yeh, no thanks.
I very much agree though, there's been a slew of cool things thats been relegated only to promos. And I sort of understand a promo first mentality, but some things really should become more available over time, by questing and the like.
And you won't understand the cause of your grief...
...But you'll always follow the voices beneath.
Challenging content is GOOD, very good. We have more than enough middling tier easy content that people breeze through while watching Netflix, we don't need more of that. The problem I see is that all content that requires you to pay attention and engage with the game that's been added recently hasn't been rewarding at all, so of course people would rather do the middling content that is highly rewarding.
One thing that I would say prevents me from exploring the whole game and seeing all the relatively unknown cool features is just how obscure some of them are. Some of the things listed in this thread I had no clue were a thing. I think that's a shame, because I bet that means a lot of other people have missed out on those things too.
Some of the new quests and events have had such crazy commands, or introduced things we didn't know were possible before. One good example is the horkval killing you had to do during the Adryn's Keep event. We went through every emote we could find, trying to duck or jump out of the way, dodge, evade, etc. We finally stumbled on the correct way to do it, but it was unnecessarily difficult and obtuse to find the answer.
Some of the new quests have been similarly hard to figure out, and I 100% don't believe the first people who got Elemental Lord did so without outside help.
I think it would go a long way to have SOME content that is difficult like that, but not every new release. It can be rewarding to figure something challenging out, but it is really off putting when you can't figure something out.
For honours mobs, though, on the other hand, for me, the big thing is I don't really know whether there's something I'm missing, I just need more people, etc. And I have no idea where to begin with those. I could have to do something obscure on the other side of the area or obtain some item on the other side of the continent, or it might just be a "use brage better, nub" or "get more people" deal. I don't feel like I know the rules of the game.
With quests, what's the worst is if you don't know the quest even exists or how to start it.
What I hate about forays is the unnecessary hurdle of finding them, which is a completely boring trek through the wilderness.
I'm not sure better rewards would impact me much. Doesn't hurt though.
I also agree that the Underworld is, well, too hard. Now, it's good to have very challenging tasks in the game, and no other area is like the Underworld. But there can be easier stuff down there too. Faction areas could be "safe" if you are trying to help that faction and have smaller quests to do, the reward for which would be some gold and learning more about the area.
Speaking of unused mechanics ... don't get me started on the Underrealm. HELP SHARDS is very tantalizing, but the place just kills you (literally, death by environment!) if you're down there too long.
There are so many things with Yggdrasil that I know are mysteries, but like Farrah said, there's no clue to them. I would love to figure out the Caer Witrin champion quest, but I don't know the first thing to begin other than "reputation", which being it was the first incarnation of the reputation system used in the Elemental quests, it absolutely is ephemeral and sucks. It's why I've only ever seen 3 people in 10+ RL years complete the damn thing.
There are a lot of quests in the world that you have to guess the right series of words that will then trigger the dialogue. Like the present issue with Nur. The reason nobody is doing those quests and figuring it out is because most of the people don't realize there are quests/things to uncover. I know because of the explorer's tome that there is 50% still uncovered on a few of the circles. But I haven't a flipping clue how to go about doing it after spending days, upon days, touching and groping every damn keyword I could find. And still nothing! Magnify that frustration with other areas on Yggadrasil, and I just don't care about it anymore.
This could be an epic story. I love the ambiance of the tree, but I feel that a lot of the quest prompts wound up remaining in the creator's head, and didn't quite navigate into an accessible way down to us - the players. Add on the absolute cancer that travelling the tree is, the risk/reward of the areas, and I avoid Yggadrasil, and the Underworld, entirely.
Let me put it this way, Caer witrin is the textbook example of the first side, and I'd argue that it almost has the right to be an absolute nightmare, to the point where I have actively seen it done and still am unsure how the hell to do it. On the other side and I use this example only because I'm somewhat lacking in the field of "knowing esoteric quests and areas that others don't" The fact that Valho coast has three distinct aspects to it that I am reasonably certain are known by only two or three people now, and one I've never seen anyone even touch not because they're great (they aren't) or should be hard to find (they shouldn't!), but by sheer distance and because they were made too obscure will simply never be dug up because as Syndra has said: a lot of quest prompts wound up remaining in the creator's head.
I don't know exactly what to do about that, its somewhat intrinsic to our need to have these deep and involving quests that leads to a natural trap. I half imagine some utopic guild that can manage to tread the line between providing the perfect hint that inspires rather than a straight walkthrough.
As for Yggdrasil the content and mechanics are awesome you guys did an amazing job with it but from all reports the exp and gold drops just aren't worth the trek up. I like the variety of creatures on the Tree itself but perhaps it shouldn't be so deadly and leave that for the actual planes themselves.
I used to love working the ship trades and putting in 4-5 hours a day to make a nice payout on multiple trades but the system rework has made my ship nothing more then a super expensive floating house with high upkeep costs.
I enjoy the challenge of working through areas that involve more than just 'hit it until it dies, then move to the next thing', but within reason - if I want mindless grind, I'll go bash round Moghedu for half an hour, but the step up from there to places like Underrealm and Underworld is too steep, even for people with lots of artefacts - reinforcing the stones in the Underrealm often involves at least one death, if not two, and that's without trying to kill anything and just reinforce the stones.
E lord quests.... wow. Firelord was such a pain in the arse (and I needed Divine help to finish it) I'm never going to drop it as I don't want to try another. I tried one other on an alt that I was unable to tri-trans so wanted to get E-lord to fight and bash a little easier, seems I'm stuck at needing half the city to help me kill something and have given up trying to find people to do it for me (Being fairly young by game standards, I'm not "popular" enough to be assisted)
I've done one Foray, which took us ages to find the entrance too and a group of 6 dragons died around 15-20 each, and failed. Thankfully we did this during a GH to avoid XP loss, but there is no way I'm going back into one of those regardless of the reward.
Having challenging content is great and just what we need, but there needs to be a limit. Having tough bashing and Dragon Endgame content is a good idea and one we've been requesting for some time, but some of these have gone far too far.
I don't really know how to fix this but I do agree that as things stand it's gone beyond challenging for me and into frustrating and pointless. although some talisman type drops would really help. Elder isn't difficult, just takes FAR too long even with assistance, even more so with the Admin assistance that ALL pieces drop equal when they clearly don't
Results of disembowel testing | Knight limb counter | GMCP AB files
That being said, if an area is basically dead, I think any mechanism to drive people there isn't going to do much if the area isn't intrinsically fun to a lot of people. I love sailing and do it all the time, even when there's not much reward-based reason to do so, but no matter how much I wish more people sailed more often, they won't if it doesn't provide them with some kind of entertainment. I love the idea of the Tree and soooooo much work went into it, but it's a pain to get around in, going alone is risky, but going in a group is not as fun because multiple people can't do most quests and being a follower in a hunting party is about the same anywhere. I've always said this with orgs in game....if people aren't doing your path/task/whatever, that means it's not fun and needs to be changed. This is a game and people come here to relax and entertain themselves.
What I would say in terms of development and engagement is that we've had enough new areas for awhile, and they take a lot of dev time. I'd rather see more of a focus on deepening content we have, checking quests and adding them to the quest system and maybe making some of the early hints and commands a little more accessible, and running events that don't result in new classes or areas (especially ones that involve tasks that people of all levels can help with).
Penwize has cowardly forfeited the challenge to mortal combat issued by Atalkez.
When you're on an outer island, getting back is similarly easy - die, spend maybe 2 mins resurrecting to the cave. From Meropis, you can GARE out as a dragon.
but to get back to, say, Suliel or Meropis? glnvm
Results of disembowel testing | Knight limb counter | GMCP AB files
Penwize has cowardly forfeited the challenge to mortal combat issued by Atalkez.
My point is that all the new content, as amazing as it is, is gated behind just enough annoyance that we spend money on making it easier. Why can't we follow through a pebble? Why have an artefact that makes entering the flame faster? Why can't we radio or equivalent back from Istarion? The game is spread out a lot and needs more encouragement to explore those parts and i think access to and from is as important as the rewards for being there as part of this discussion