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jtoddcoleman

ArtCraft Developer
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jtoddcoleman last won the day on September 12

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About jtoddcoleman

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  1. As I said, this is a valid problem and one that we will have to solve before launch. Todd
  2. You'll be able to craft better gear across the entire progression of the game and, on top of that, still have exclusivity over the best gear in the game. Your gear will be far more durable, have better stats, and the item effects will be bespoke. Todd
  3. Agreed, we can't chase every rabbit down every rabbit hole. And we aren't. We don't make these decisions blindly; we can look at the data we collect . We can look through the logs and see how far players get into the experience, and what state they are in when they stop playing. We can also then reach out to them and ask them for reasons why they quit -- which is important qualitative data to add on top of the quantitative because often people don't "quit", they were just logging in to check our progress and intend to come back when the game is more complete. I also read these forums and social media for at least 2-3 hours a day, to get feedback from you guys. We don't make changes in a vacuum, even if it appears that way from the outside. To reiterate my previous post: we can tell from the data that there is a significant issue in the gameplay loop where players find they cannot move forward, and they quit. While a thriving player economy will (hopefully) alleviate a large percentage of these issues, there is no guarantee of that, and since there is no guarantee we need failsafe mechanics. I'm happy to discuss the reasons why players might hit the point where they can't move forward, and brainstorm ideas to resolve those issues -- and we should, because the less it happens, the better. But regardless of the reason why, we shouldn't build a system with no failsafe mechanic, where a player can find themselves literally gated with no alternatives. I understand and agree with the desire to protect the crafting profession, and I will absolutely endeavor to do so, but we have other design goals that also have to be considered and accommodated as well. Todd
  4. I actually don't like disciplines being gated behind random drops, either. I feel like they are too critical to creating builds. I'll talk to the design team about this one. Todd
  5. A few points, since there seems to be a lot of confusion and trepidation about this system. Part of our game vision has always been -- and remains -- fostering interconnection between players of different types. That hasn't changed. However, we can't pursue that goal to the exclusion of everything else. In our current design, we haven't just encouraged interconnectivity, we have enforced it in dozens of ways. Players aren't just more efficient or effective when working with others, they are completely dependent on others. And by "completely dependent", I mean that. If a player doesn't have access to a variety of crafters with a spread of disciplines, they can find themselves in a position where they simply cannot participate in the game. And this happens early; you hit your first gate within a few hours of gameplay. If a player cannot find equipment of the appropriate type, their game play loop is broken. This is not theoretical, or conjecture, we can see it happening now. We can debate the reasons WHY it they might not be able to find that equipment -- I can name a dozen reasons, and I'm sure you can too -- but what cannot be debated is what happens, if a player finds themselves in this situation. They quit. Of course, our team will attempt to identify and fix every root cause that leads to this situation. But that's not enough. We need to have a design in place to correct for that situation, if and when it arises. In an open world, there will be scenarios (Durenthal noted one, above) where players may simply choose not to do something. Whenever a system is 100% dependent on the actions of other players, which we of course can't control, we are in danger of that system failing. and if that system is critical to the game, that's a problem. Randomized, disposable items is a solution to a very real problem. This system is almost identical to the system that we used on Shadowbane. I know that it works. So why don't people like it? Let's look at the main concerns, as voiced in this thread. Some of them I agree with, some of them I don't. Concern #1: "it creates more grind" I don't agree. Players can ignore this system completely and use the previous method to harvest and craft items. Adding an optional way to get something in the game that can be ignored isn't forcing an additional "grind". Further, since these items can be sacrificed for XP, this system shortcuts the PvE loop (less grind) and since they can be salvaged, it shortcuts the harvesting loop (less grind). For the last year, we have heard complaints from our PvP-focused backers that the balance of time I get to spend in PvP was being far out-weighed by things I have to do, in order to PvP. This should dramatically help to address that problem. Concern #2: "what happens right after a wipe?" I agree with this concern. This is a valid issue. That said, I believe this is an issue that we already had, resurfacing: all of the top-tier items in the game are gated behind months of passive training. This is definitely a problem with the current design, and once that I've been thinking about for some time (long before loot). I have ideas for how I think we should address it, and of course I'm open to other ideas. I absolutely agree that it needs to be resolved before launch. Concern #3: "this will cause even more strain on the banking system" This is also valid, and unfortunately I don't have a great answer... yet. This isn't a design issue; I want more storage. The reason for the limited bank space / guild storage options is purely technical; the engineering team has been working on a solution for some time I'll be delighted to launch it the moment it is ready. I get that there is a lot of frustration in this area, and I look forward to the day when this problem is behind us, more than you can imagine. Concern #4 (which I imagine is the most critical): "this means that crafters won't be important" I absolutely understand that crafters are nervous that this will undercut their role in the game. But there is a difference between being something being "important" to me, and forcing me to be 100% dependency on it. Food is important. Oxygen is critical. We recognize this concern, and we're taking great pains to underscore the importance of crafting. We aren't going to drop any legendary quality items. Every attribute that can be found on a loot item can be created via crafting, but not vice versa. Loot items are disposable; they are made to be used (and used up) very quickly. They can be salvaged for resources and components. We are putting these safeguards in place because our intention is still to keep dedicated crafters at the top of the economic food chain. We want crafting to be a full game experience and parallel advancement path. However, we cannot go so far in this pursuit that we risk making a game that is literally broken for everyone else. Todd
  6. Hey folks, just a quick note, apparently some people took my statement on yesterday’s livestream that “I will never do crowdfunding again” as frustration with community feedback. Nothing could be further from the truth; this game wouldn’t be here without you and frankly won’t be successful without you. That said, I was being earnest about my feelings on crowdfunding; I think it’s a particularly challenging way to develop a game for a few reasons: 1. You have to build excitement/hype at the beginning of the project, and it’s impossible to keep that excitement up for the duration of the project. That means your fighting an uphill battle of fatigue in the press and the audience going into launch. Not good. 2. Supporting a “live” service for the duration of development, with the accompanying build process, deployment pipeline and operational environment is very expensive and time consuming. 3. The process exposes all of our missteps to the world, and that sucks. No one would prefer to make their mistakes in front of a live studio audience. 4. The nature of the beast is that you're putting undercooked systems and unbalanced tables in front of players. As you know, this can often lead to experiences that are not fun. Managing expectations and keeping players happy is especially difficult under these conditions. All of that said, I apologize if it came across in any way as a swipe at you guys. It absolutely wasn’t intended that way. It can be hard to get feedback some times, but I want to make this game great for you and I fully recognize that we can’t do it without you. Next time, I’ll go get the funding lined up first and ask you for your feedback —without also asking for your money. That’s all. Thanks, Todd
  7. I'll see if we can allow nobles to do it. Todd
  8. we could, but that doesn't sound very optimal. I've also toyed with the idea of making uptime per day based on investment / management of the EK -- i.e. tie it to the parcels and buildings you have installed there. that would be relatively easy and I don't think the folks who really want it (srathor, etc) would have any issue with it. they are playing that game already. Todd
  9. we could adjust the time before an EK spins down. I hate to have people logged in but not playing, that costs money in terms of both bandwidth and server cycles. T
  10. I don't know, something like 5 or 10 minutes? Todd
  11. Wow, so I just ran down the hall to ask QA "what happened to our AFK timer?" and apparently only half of the functionality is in and working (the disconnected player zombie state) -- I thought we had this in and working since hunger dome testing (and that it just didn't trigger for me because I was an admin account, which is the correct behavior). But no, it's not happening for anyone. that's a HUGE problem, and I can't believe that I missed this. I'll get it into the system and get it fixed asap. Todd
  12. we're pushing as hard as we can to get the new server performance improvements out to you guys, because the higher the cap, the less this issue will matter. we could put in a temporary faction cap (something like 33/33/33) but my fear is that people would just abuse this with alts and it wouldn't actually help the situation -- in fact, it would make it worse, as everyone would be forced to queue pretty much all of the time. we're aware of the issue, and absolutely understand that it's incredibly frustrating. if there was more that we could do, we would. server and client performance is our #1 priority for the next milestone. once we're on the other side of that improvement, I'm more than happy to look at separate queues for different factions (or maybe just enforcing that during siege windows), but I want to stay focused right now 100% on improving performance. Todd
  13. I'd absolutely love too -- but the charts still show a few (not many, but a few) hitches on the server that need to be addressed before we will feel comfortable increasing it. We have a (fingers crossed) MAJOR performance update that we're been working on for a few months now, but it touches so many different systems that it is highly likely to break everything the moment that we launch it. so we're putting it through a lot more testing cycles, in the hopes of minimizing that pain. We know that the zones work reasonably well right now at 100. The problem is: if you jump it up, even a little, then you aren't just risking a bad experience for those 10 players, you're jeopardizing that play experience for everyone on that server. So while queueing absolutely sucks (and yeah, I know it does) it's actually the lesser of the two evils right now. We're working on the real fix, and I think we have a handle on it. It's working its way through the process and hopefully you guys will see it soon, and your patience will be well rewarded. Todd
  14. Hey gang, let's take a quick walk down memory lane. WAY, WAY back in Shadowbane beta (I’m guessing this was 2002?) we had an interesting thing happen. Our testing community was heavily guild-focused; teams from UO and new groups were waging war and building cities and sieges were happening and, in spite of the bugs, the game was kind of working. Guilds were going at each other, vying for domination of the Aerynth, the Shadowbane world. And then, one day, the fighting just stopped. A couple of the top guilds decided that, instead of fighting each other, they would work together in a big mega-alliance. They had enough manpower and enough skill to take over the server. That guild was called the Rolling 30s, led by a guy named Bone Dancer, and they did a pretty good job of locking the server down for a while. I'm looking at the state of the Trials of Malekai campaigns, and one of them looks strangely familiar. So, I have a few thoughts. First: if the game literally gets to a point where it is mathematically unwinnable, we can always end it early. This is testing, and the goal of testing is to (1) find bugs and (2) learn things so that we can iterate over the design. If we hit a point in this campaign – or any campaign – where we aren’t learning anything useful, then we can (and will) shut it down and move on to the next test. Second: while I know this can be aggravating, I want to make it clear that this isn’t a player problem; it’s a design problem. And it’s not an unknown out-of-nowhere design problem, either… as I said, I’ve seen this before. One of the major reasons that we pushed off the First Sanctioned campaign is because we didn’t have a rewards system in place that would help keep this from happening (the other major reason, of course, was performance.) Will the reward system absolutely fix it? No, probably not… but it will certainly help. Right now, the reward system is about as simplistic as a reward system can be: players on the winning team get a gold badge, everyone else gets silver. EVERYONE gets the badge. So, it really shouldn’t be a shock that players are working together to get the gold… because why wouldn’t they? A better solution, and one that we’re in the process of implementing, uses a combination of Multi-Vector Rewards and Reward Scarcity. I was holding off on discussing this because I wanted to lock the rewards down first, but it seems like a number of people are concerned, so let’s go ahead and talk about it now. Reward scarcity is just that. If every person competing at the Olympics could get a gold medal just by holding hands with their fellow participants, we’d see a lot of gold medals and a lot less competition. So, step one is to limit the number of players who can earn any given reward. On top of that, we need to have Multi-Vector Rewards; not just a single “do-this-one-thing-and-only-this-one-thing-to-win” rule because single vector problems are the easiest to game (and as I noted above, this reward system is about as simple as it gets). So, here’s an example of a better reward structure (and it’s JUST an example): 1. Gold medal for the top 20 players in the winning faction 2. Gold medal for the top 20 individual contributors across all factions, in killing/captures/harvest/craft Even this super-simple example is better than the “everyone hold hands” model we have on ToM… and more vectors, with varying levels of enforced scarcity, would be even better because it drives players to have to make hard choices to “win”. Between now and First Sanctioned, we’ll be spending a lot of time working through the rewards design to help offset this behavior – and once we have more players (and more campaigns running) that will certainly help, as well. (Dregs will, too, because guilds are more willing to form alliances than they are to form “mega-guilds” as that requires giving up their guild identity.) As I said, if the situation on any Campaign gets bad enough, if the game literally gets to a point where it is mathematically unwinnable (i.e. another variant of the dreaded Uncle Bob Scenario) then we will end the Campaign and put up a new one, making whatever adjustments we can. I know I could probably step in and ask the main guilds right now to stop holding hands and fight each other… but I’m not going to do that, because it would skew the test and any learning we might take from that test would be flawed. The simple fact is: our design needs to stand up to actual player behavior, not player-behavior-when-we-ask-them-to-play-how-we-want-them-to. Once we launch, we can’t expect players to treat our design with “kids gloves” just because we asked them nicely. I know that it can be really frustrating to test an unfinished game, and for that I can only say: I get it, I hear you. All I can offer in response is: we’re watching, we’re learning, and we will continue to do the best we can to adjust and iterate as quickly as possible. Thanks for sticking with us as we work through these issues.
  15. Yeah, I have a problem. I have two different design goals and they are diametrically opposed. I want to be able to expose the strategy game information to everyone, even to people who aren't even playing in the Campaign -- but if I show the maps, that makes it pretty impossible to hide them at the same time. So instead I was leaning towards a hybrid approach: show the maps and the major features (mountains, roads, strongholds, etc) and hide the details until someone claims them (outposts, etc). I could also throw other things into the mix, like resources and mob spawners -- you'll probably recall they had them in previous versions. We had fog of war, and it was kind of cool, but frankly it didn't last more than hour once a new map came up. so when I hit the conflict between these two design goals, I decided that showing the strategy game was more important, and I gave that priority. I like the idea, though, so I will continue to look for opportunities to use it (or a variation of it) in the future. Todd
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