The grind as a tool
The grind was indubitably the most complained about thing about the original Darkfall. Why would anyone in their right mind want to use it as a tool?
It is our opinion that the issue never was addressed and that the duration of the progression system was not the issue. Instead we believe that the power gap was the actual root cause of that barrier of entry players felt after playing for a while. The lack of player specialization was somewhat at cause too, but we’ll address that in its own section.
This was made worse by the fact that PvE as a group was not the most efficient way to progress. Being forced to solo or duo most of the time is a weird state of mind to be in when playing an MMORPG
But why should you tolerate someone else stealing your skillups and loot when you can handle most spawns alone?
Well this is our answer: We shall use the grind as a common foe to unite them all!
Our reasoning is that PvE as a group creates strong social bonds, especially when others are an asset rather than a liability.
Stats, skills and abilities
The first step is to address the power gap directly:
- All stats will get the same diminishing returns treatment that health received.
- Stat debuffs will be changed to remove percentages rather than flat numbers.
- Gear tiers will have large increases in cost for small increases in effectiveness.
We will also smooth out the way skill effectiveness improves. Rather than having only every 25 levels be meaningful, each individual point will add something.
This will have a huge impact on the psychology of a play session and should provide positive feedback at a decreased interval.
In general, what we are going to do is reduce the base skill up speed approximately to what it was before most of the various speed increases that occurred in the original.
We will choose a speed that is fast enough for a determined player to raise his skills alone, but far too boring to do all the time in solo.
We will also reduce the base drop rate of most mobs and the loot distribution. Now it is going to be hard to make it out on your own financially.
Overall this means that newer players have an easier time catching up and can get tools to fight veterans faster. The debuffs being stronger against veterans mean that a skilled player that can consistently lands debuffs will level the playing field. The change in gear should help lower the “daily pvp gear bag” level and let newer players create a viable bank faster too.
Monster spawn scaling
And now our engagement system comes into play!
For each player engaged with a mob spawn, the mobs of this spawn will become stronger but also drop more loot. Some spawns will even have more monsters appearing to fight off the player threat.
Difficulty should raise slightly faster than loot gains to add more challenge and encourage group coordination. We’ll have different class of monsters reacting differently to the player assault. While goblins would just swarm more and call in the help of more shamans, hobgoblins would start using more advanced tactics as a cohesive unit and a golem would become bigger and use more varied abilities.
In addition, each player will receive a general skill up bonus for each other player engaged with the same spawn. There will be diminishing returns and some low level monsters, like goblins, will have a maximum skill up modifier.
In conclusion, you need to hit mobs more, for more skill ups each time in order to receive more loot in the end. Even heals and buffs get improved faster thanks to the engaged status.
Solo players can still progress, but the way to go is together.
The end goal here is to have players stop antagonizing each other and stick together organically when leveling up. Perhaps even create friendships over farming a spawn together or living in the same npc city.
It would also help to create emergent gameplay and reduce ganking: Attacking 10 players at a spawn turns into a fight.
We also want players to have a greater challenge when doing PvE, and incidentally, have more fun. This should provide positive interaction between veteran players and newer players too. If loot increases as numbers increase, then veterans have incentives to bring in some lower level players to increase their own personal gains.
We will also use this feature to reduce negative interactions between players. The additional loot generated due to a player’s engagement with a spawn will have a “grace period” of 20 seconds. During that time, only that one player can loot this stack of objects, then it will become public loot. This allows us to have the advantages of instanced loot without the inflation drawbacks it causes.
In the end, the average player will earn as much and will skill up faster than in the original while having a greater sense of belonging to a community.
Meditation changes and questing
We will remove the gold cost of meditation points and provide alternate ways of gaining them. We will also make every skill, ability and stat be part of the system.
We will keep meditation as “offline only” initially. It will be easier to handle technically and serves the idea that the meditation system is aimed at newer players and those with less time to play.
All quests in the game will provide an amount of meditation points, including dungeon dailies. We will also be completing the sub factions concept to have a form of “reputation” factor that unlock more quests and more repeatable content.
The idea here is that a new player has a lot of quests that can be done only once so they’ll get more meditation point in average than a veteran that has completed them already. It is yet another catch up mechanic that at the same times encourage newer players to explore the world and its lore.
For veterans, there will be the dungeon dailies and we will expand the hourly quests to have leader boards and personal stats. This should be one more reason for people to be out there in the world and do stuff together.
Now that we have touched upon how to gain skills and stats, let’s deep a bit more into what our player progression system will look like.