I REALLY hope they don't model LOTRO's cash shop model too closely. It started out ok but got increasingly crass in terms of selling power.....to the point where it was selling cash shop only items or effectively cash shop only items (your chances of getting them in game were so miniscule as to be non-existant) that were more effective in a number of ways then what you could get in game. Not to mention the loud and intrusive cash-shop advertisements that appeared all over the UI. It wasn't the only reason I walked away from the game...but it certainly was a big part of it.
Though not a fan of cash shops, period....LOTRO's origional cash shop wasn't bad at all....but as time wore on, they got to the point where they seriously crossed the line.
I assume Gate Guard Duty will be done by the NPC Guards of the Settlement.
I assume PC Guards will operate for worksites which most definitely be attracting mobs (goblins, wolves, etc) giving the PC Guards something fun/interesting to do on a regular basis.
I also assume that PC Guards may be hired for high value caravan protection. This may end up being a little boring but probably will pay well and depending upon the area traveled through may also offer the opportunity for PVE encounters.
I don't think you'll find PC Guards doing routiene duty for low/medium value caravans very often nor for gates (except maybe during times of active combat) nor for worksites in areas relatively safe areas that aren't expected to draw much bandit or mob attraction.....it's not likely going to be economical to pay a live person the rates they would demand for that, as people will only be willing to perform such duty in a game if they are getting paid very well or if there is alot of interesting action going on. YMMV.
Edit: I expect settlements or merchant consortiums may hire mercenary companies of "bandit hunters" to actively sweep areas or trade routes they are using for bandits, bandit hideouts and mobs that might interfere with commerce. That's where alot of the PC's on this side of the law will be working....as that allows for active play and likely won't demand as high a price from players.
In My Opinion,
In order to make the cash shop sale of certain types of items, say our hypothetical T3 Skymetal sword, not significantly harmfull to the games intent and palatable to many of us who do have serious reservations in those regards we would have to design so many limiting/balancing factors that the item would no longer be particularly attractive to most buyers.
This becomes a self-defeating effort and a wasted allocation of resources. Figuring out how to produce items with limited sales appeal comes at the opportunity cost of not using those resources to figure out how to produce items of greater sales appeal.
For example; we could hypotheticaly figure out how to manufacture a balloon out of lead that would float(saw this on an episode of MythBusters actually). That might be an interesting intellectual excersize and we have enough smart people here that we probably could do it. However if the real objective of the balloon manufacturer is to simply have a balloon that floats well then the whole excersize is a wasted allocation of resources since there are a plethora of materials available for balloon manufacture that achieve that same objective more effectively and with far less work involved then lead.
Likewise, I assume that GW's real objective is NOT to figure out how to impliment 1 specific item or 1 specific class of items in the cash shop but rather to figure out how to maximize the proffit coming from the cash shop without imposing significant negative impact upon the game and significant negative reaction from it's core audience. I believe that there are a plethora of options more suited to that effect and without the same complications as the one which has been repeatedly discussed here on the boards and our efforts are better allocated toward a discussion of those.
In short, why aren't we focusing on things that are attractive to buyers and don't come with the same negative impact and same stigma as our hypothetical T3 Skymetal sword?
Frankly I think todays MMO Publishers find themselves in a bit of a "I want to have my cake and eat it too" situation. As a responsible business they want (possibly even need) the income from "Pay 2 Win". They've got investors/stockholders to serve as well as staff who's livelihoods depend upon the companies financial success to feed thier families.
Wearing that hat, one can clearly sympathize with the desire to maximize revenue streams. At the same time, they realize that the "Pay 2 Win" moniker will drive away business. So many of them scramble to try to find ways to spin what is essentialy "Pay 2 Win" into something that won't be percieved as that by the players so they can still have that revenue stream and not suffer the negative stigma attached to it.
As a gamer though.....the marketing or spin on a practice is irrelevent to me. I end up looking at what functionaly a particular practice does or means to the gameplay experience itself. If willingness to pay cash ends up providing a significant gameplay advantage over others...that simply makes a game not worth playing for me.
I don't really mind GW's mechanism in paying for training time since you can't advance any single character faster then real time. A person paying 100 X still isn't going to be advancing thier main character any faster then a person paying X, as long as X is equivalent to real time. That comes out to a simple usage fee to play the game and advance (similar to a sub) that would be affordable for most interested players. However where a player gets an ever increasing advantage the more they buy is where we really start to get into trouble. Consumables can certainly fall into that realm without some mechanical/practical limitations on thier use.
Taking it to an extreme (for illustrative purposes), if a player with infinite money could afford to pay to heal thier damage every single time I hit them....I litteraly would not be able to defeat them in a fight....what would be the point of playing a game that involved fighting them?
Now I have no idea what you are saying.
In game coin IS A (not THE...just one of a number) of how well a player/settlement is doing in this sort of game.
The ability to BUY in game coin with (real cash)Goblin Balls is a complete circumvention of that.....BAD....but it still leaves open the neccesity of using that coin to obtain something usefull to you in War
The ability to purchase war material DIRECTLY with real cash, circumventing even the in game coin step is even WORSE.
Your "hypothetical" translates (to me) into the equivalent of saying "we should just break the game, ruin peoples enjoyment and let players cheat to win"..... I have no way of coming up with a scenario for making that acceptable.
I appreciate that you are trying to do it....and I'm even open being persuaded with a scenario where it doesn't come down to that....but I haven't heard one presented yet. The NPC Settlement delivery thing didn't get around most of the core problems with the "hypothetical".... if you can come up with something that does I'm willing to be persuaded.
For example in minitures games....a player who can afford to buy more minitures would have a distinct advantage. However the developers usualy address that by assigning a "point value" to each miniture and opposing armies are determined by a point buy system. Thus having more minitures doesn't yield a game-play advantage....it just allows you to play larger and more varied scenarios. If you did that in an Online Minitures Game...that would be an example of where a RMT was mitigated by a game feature so it did NOT circumvent core game-play considerations nor yield an unfair advantage.
I'm all ears if you can come up with the equivalent for your "hypothetical".
Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease it is true. But eliminating an option you might need for the unforeseen seems shortsighted. Having the ability to sell gear does not mean selling gear. It means you could were there sufficient reason. I don't agree with Nihimon that they will sell such gear to make money: I think they will make money anyway. But at the same time, keeping possibly needed options open when you can is prudent.
They always have the possibility Being.....they have the possibility to sell "Phaser II's" and "Porche 911's" in the Cash Shop if they wanted.
We're not talking about what possibilties they have....we're talking about what they AUGHT to do....and what we'll individualy tolerate as customers.
Yeah....I've already pointed out that I think Goblin Balls are very bad and have no place in this sort of game....but direct cash sales are an order of magnitude worse beyond that.
Let's put it this way....
Goblin Balls = 4 on the "suck-itude" scale
8 > 4
Is that clear enough?
Despite the fact that many of would prefer no cash shop what-so-ever, we've pretty much all accepted that there will be one.....and if you've looked we've all offered suggestions as to what they might be.
For me those suggestions just don't include things that circumvent core gameplay. A large part of the game is based around the concept of competition for resources and production of usefull gear/equipment with those resources. Offering important resources/gear therefore circumvents (and renders null) a very core feature of the gameplay that the game is built around.
Again, it would be like when playing Risk if I could simply buy as many armies as I wanted. What would actualy be the point of playing the game in the first place. If we wanted to make a contest based upon who would spend more money...we could just do away with the game and stand around burning dollar bills until one of us had enough.
An acceptable Cash Shop is one that doesn't offer things that circumvent core game-play features. There are a TON of things it could offer that don't....but not what you describe....and frankly not really what Ryan initialy alluded to as well...although he was pretty general in his allusions so I'm waiting to hear more clarification before I raise a "Pay 2 Win" flag and walk away.
In game coin IS a measure of how well a character/settlement has done in a game of this sort...but in terms of war effort that coin still must be converted into something concretely usefull....any army can't eat coin, nor can it be loaded into a bow.
Allowing for a player to purchase coin with RMT is a bad distortion of the gameplay of the sort of game we are talking about. Allowing a player to purchase war material directly is even worse.
In direct response...
"Here's my point: if you're going to object to my ability to bypass your Siege and supply myself or my Settlement without your ability to interfere with that, then you should object to any mechanics which allow me to do that, regardless of whether or not they involve real money."
- No because, having coin that you actualy earned IN GAME is a measure of how well you played the game. In the same manner that I wouldn't object if you had 50 peices in Risk to use in attack against me because you had chosen which territories to capture wisely....but I darn well would if you had pulled out a $20 bill to buy them from the guy running the game.
"In essence, the potential that I could accomplish the same exact result entirely inside the game is justification for being able to accomplish it with real money."
- What you are just describing is using RMT to circumvent meaningfull competitive gameplay in order to achieve a favorable result (a.k.a. "Pay 2 Win")
"Keep in mind that Ryan has made it very clear that attempts to totally dominate the market won't be allowed, so it's not like you're going to be able to corner the market on whatever materiel I actually need."
- No one says I have to corner the market. There may be 500 different settlements that all own (and are consuming) some portion of the market in a particular material...but they all have thier OWN needs for it. If there isn't enough surplus of that material sitting around for you to purchase (e.g. what is leftover after they've filled thier own needs) IN THE TIMEFRAME YOU NEED IT....then you've been weakend in a way you never could with RMT.
"If I can resupply at any PC Settlement with a Market, you have to spread your forces very thin to identify where I actually am resupplying. If I'm forced to use one of the NPC Settlements, you'll have a much better chance of actually confronting me in open battle. If you couldn't defeat my full force in open battle, then you wouldn't be Sieging me. In fact, I would think you would welcome the opportunity to get me massed outside of my walls. "
- I don't need to send forces out to every PC Settlement in the World. All I need is forces that are faster then yours when you are transporting gear. Some understanding of your POTENTIAL markets...or a good intel source on the inside of your operation (e.g. I pay off someone like Bluddwulf). I'm NOT Seiging you yet...I'm not interested in confronting you in open battle until I've degraded your forces ability to fight effectively...that includes your capacity to produce war material and whatever war material you have in supply stocks or strategic reserve. If I can start hitting your strung out individual supply convoys peicemeal then I'm going to start bleeding you through your reserves of war material....you'll have more going out then coming in. If you can choose to concentrate that in one big shipment in a place and time of your choosing....and concentrate your force to protect....I no longer have the advantage of localized numbers nor initiative. I'm MUCH worse off.
@GrumpyMel, in case you missed it earlier, the constraint I'm talking about is that you would have to go to an NPC Settlement in order to take delivery of anything that was bought in the Cash Shop.
Yes, I was very well aware of that.....see the responses I provided above.Forcing delivery to an NPC settlement, adds some minimal mitigation to the issue but is hardly the equivalent of forcing one to go to individual player producers for said material.
You are still creating war material out of thin air with no limiting factors and with dependency upon nothing but your wallet and the ability to click a "Buy" button for assured delivery to you.
It is about as close as to "Pay 2 Win" as I could imagine for this type of game.....
It's the equivalent of buying a limitless amount of Panzer tank in a wargame.
As part of thier target audience we DO have some capacity to effect what will be sold in thier store. IF they believe that offering an item will cost them more revenue in disatisfied customers then gained from sale of the item then they may well rethink thier decision to offer said item.
Further, offering SOME item is not the equivalent of offering ANY and EVERY item. Offering items of lower importance in game play WILL have a lesser effect on the game then items of greater importance.
- You can't be assured that there are sufficient purchasers whereever you go to buy the quantity of Goblin Balls you need to unload in the time-frame you need to unload them.
- Even if you have the coin, you can't be assured that there is sufficient production capacity where-ever you will go to fill your need, in the timeframe you need it. Remember these Producers are used to producing for a specific market size...they won't be attuned to having a large amount of surplus laying about just waiting for you to buy it. They also may have other customers with needs they will first....and money won't neccesarly be the only consideration they have in terms of who gets priority for thier product.
- I can actualy DO something about the human producers/merchants you will need to buy from either through diplomacy or force.
- Even if you CAN find buyers for your Goblin Balls and sufficient Suppliers for your war material....there is a very good chance you'll have to go to MULTIPLE different sources/settlements for it. If you have to split your forces into protecting multiple different supply convoys I have a MUCH easier time interdicting them by destroying them peicemeal.
I agree Goblin Balls are problematic as well and really have no place in a game of this type but as Zen has pointed out, they aren't quite as problematic as direct cash shop purchase of equipment.
So you have in-game silver...unless you plan to fire silver coins at your enemy that doesn't help you in warfare directly.
You have to translate that coin into material goods (swords, arrows, healing potions) which CAN help you in combat...
If your local infrastructure is destroyed, you'll need to arrange to import those goods from elsewhere. Unlike Goblin Balls purchase of goods in game is NOT anonymous. Importers can be affected diplomaticaly (human to human interaction) or with targeted attacks. Regular shipments can be interdicted. Additionaly because you are no longer producing anything and must turn to outside producers, purchasing competition for those goods is likely to rise, creating scarcity conditions....where the goods may not be available even if you had the coin to purchase them and the ability to transport them.
With Goblin Balls, at least you aren't introducing war material OUT OF THIN AIR.....
- I can never convince (or force) the cash shop NOT to sell you an item.
- I can never introduce a scarcity condition where production capacity of an item simply doesn't exist because I've destroyed yours....and outside producers still have thier own settlements, allies and regular customers needs to fulfill before they are willing to sell to you.
- I can never force you to go to multiple, far away disparate sources.... spreading your manpower thin to transport the item....making it easier for me to wage an interdiction campaign.
Goblin Balls are bad....and they really don't belong in this sort of game....but direct cash shop purchases of items and material are even worse.
It's not simply bypassing Seige that is the issue. You are bypassing the whole concept of Economic Warfare. A large part of defeating an enemy is destroying it's ability to sustain a fight. It takes material goods and wealth to purchase them in order to be able to fight over the long term.
If a faction can simply create them out of thin air (out of game money). Then they don't need to worry about someone trashing thier infrastructure, thier resource gathering camps, thier crafters, thier merchants, etc.
Successfull wars aren't typical fought by starting out straight with an assault or a siege. Usualy they start by degrading the opponents ability to fight...destroying thier reserves of personnel (which can't happen in PFO because death is only temporary) and war material.
If a faction can purchase thier way out of that, even if they have to go to a starting town to get the goods, you'll mostly never GET to the point where laying a successfull SEIGE or BLOCKADE is possible....because you need to ALREADY have gained a very significant advantage over your opponent in combat power to attempt either one.
@Mel, the only difference between your system and buying it in the cash shop is that you get it by asking an NPC for it, and take a portion of profits of the person selling. GW has as much control over the cash shop as they do over NPCs.
I also forgot to highlight the other important distinctions between your system and the one I proposed.
In your paradigm the material purchased is FUNGIBLE, immediately availble to be placed on the market and converted into coin. Furthermore because aquisition of the material cost the character virtualy NOTHING in game terms they are free to set any price above 0 and still proffit from it. Which in turn threatens the low level material gatherers ability to make a living off thier chosen proffesi
This assures the low level material gather that he has some possibility to proffit from labor at his chosen proffesion since he can at least sell the raw materials to make the equivalent item at a price less then the NPC merchant demands for the same.
This encourages human interaction and cooperation between the crafter and the material gatherer...since the crafter can potentialy achieve a higher markup and proffit by going to the raw material gather instead.
The crafter still has a fail-safe though if he has nothing to barter for with the material gatherer or one simply isn't available because he CAN still goto the merchant...and even if by doing so the item he produces isn't price competitive in the market....the NPC will buy the item from him at a fixed price.
This ensures BOTH crafters and resource gatherers have some venue for earning money by persuing thier proffesions at low level.
I'm still at #2, I'd prefer #1 but I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen given the current MMO market and GW's perception of it.
If it's #4 I can tell you for certain I'm not going to be playing despite what I've already contributed to the Kickstarters.........and unless they can PROOVE #3 will be implimented in such a way that it has negligable impact on game-play....I'll be walking there as well.
If I want P2W there are 10,000 other MMO's out there I could go play.
@Mel, the only difference between your system and buying it in the cash shop is that you get it by asking an NPC for it, and take a portion of profits of the person selling. GW has as much control over the cash shop as they do over NPCs.
Not unless they build a maximum purchase amount and a purchase queue into the cash shop for each item.....essentialy turning it into more of an Online Auction House then a typical Cash Shop....
....otherwise they have no protection that Joe and Bobby aren't going to flood the game with 10,000 units of Iron within 5 minutes making it absolutely worthless for anyone (including other new players) for anyone gathering iron, selling iron or producing anything made from iron.
Seige isn't the only circumstance where RMT of items/material is problematic for this style game.
If you know a Rival (settlement, company, individual) is specialized in producing certain types of items or materials. You could simply pay cash to drop a ton of that type of material item into the game thereby devaluing their speciality and trashing thier economy without ever lifting a blade.
For instance if I know the 7th Veil has ash-wood as a primary export....I can simply drop cash to do a RMT of Ash Bows....and either sell them at low prices or give them away. Suddenly there is no market for ash-wood anymore....and 7th Veils economy is completely trashed with me doing nothing more then being wealthy IRL...and pressing the "Buy" (e.g "I Win") button in the cash shop.
Sure 7th Veil could go to war with me (probably reputation/alignment hit for them) in response but I've just seriously hampered thier ability (economic base) to actualy prosecute that War.
You could impliment a Debt/Brokerage system....
Step 1: Character accepts a contract to produce a low level item from an NPC. The mat's are similar to mats used to produce a regular low level item except thier bonded making them non-tradeable. The item produced is also bonded. The bonded item may be sold back to the NPC for a fixed price OR it may be sold (but not traded) to another player character.
During the SELL transaction, the item loses it's bonded status but a fixed amount of coins are AUTOMATICALY deductated to goto the NPC. The player recieves whatever is remaining.
The lowest level basic items are probably availble from NPC merchants anyway...so you would have a fixed price ceiling for them in starter towns. The new crafter can make a little bit of coin for themselves by undercutting that market to build up some starting capital. The low level resource gatherer can offer the low level crafter to earn greater markup on his items by offering materials for less then the NPC takes from the sale.
Even in the absence of any market for the item, the new crafter can earn a bit of coin for his labor by selling back to the NPC broker.
If needed, GW can control the input of coin into the game by limiting the number of contracts the NPC broker has availble at any time. Just as they can control the amount of wealth input by limiting the rate at which raw material nodes replenish.
It has a huge advantage over allowing RMT purchase of materials since it doesn't allow any individual to distort the market/economy by flooding it with a huge influx of RMT created materials that GW has no governing control over.
Things I'm generaly ok with...
- Training Time (according to GW's currently proposed use) since you can't "speed up" training on an individual character, this ends up being the equivalent of paying a sub.
- Access to Modules, Themepark Content and Special Events (e.g. a GM orchestrated "Wedding).
- Cosmetic adjustments to existing items (e.g. applying a "Skin" to your sword).
- Cosmetic Options for Characters (e.g. different hair styles, non-standard features)
- Access to Different Character Starting Race Options (as long as those Races are balanced game-play wise with regular starting races and not clearly superior choices from a game-play standpoint).
- Access to Different Character Archtypes (as long as those Archtypes are balanced game-play wise and not clearly superior to regular archtypes and progress through them must be achieved through the regular mechanics that other archtypes use)
- Non-Gameplay effecting abilities (e.g. learning special "emotes")
- Account related things such as More Character Slots or advanced access to Beta Builds/Testing Servers, etc.
- Real World Swag - T-Shirts, Coffee Mugs, Artwork, etc
Things I'm NOT generaly ok with....
- Consumables that have a mechanical effect on gameplay (e.g. Healing Potions, Cure Potions, Poisons, Scrolls, Wands, etc)
- Raw Materials
- Character abilities that grant temporary or permanant combat, political or economic advantages.
I'm honestly not even crazy about cosmetic things but I understand that MMO consumers tend to be resistant to increases in the basic access price for an MMO and the Developers legitimately deserve to make money for thier products.
With the Race and Archtype things the Dev's need to be REALLY carefull that they aren't superior or usurp the functions of existing races/archtypes but simply flavorfull variations on them.
You do realize that there is a point beyond which putting certain items in the cash shop will actualy LOSE GW money because it's intended audience will become so disillusioned with the company and how it's selling practices effect the game that they will simply walk away from the game (thereby preventing any chance of GW earning future revenue).
I don't pretend to know what that is since I'm only a single person and can only speak to my own individual tolerances. However that line is out there.
Furthermore, speaking only for myself, I DON'T want them to make money IF it comes at the cost of what attracted me to them as a company and PFO as a game in the first place. YMMV.
The New Player Experience and the Cash Shop are seperate issues. Cash Shop purchases don't only extend to (or affect) new players. Nor does the cash shop neccesarly do much to address many important aspects of the NPE. You don't need to turn to one to address issues in the other.
The more troubling dynamic isn't so much the "buy the Titan" in EvE, as that's a huge one time purchase that can easly be lost.
It's actualy something more akin to buying "Gold Ammo" in World of Tanks. It's an expendible that provides some advantage (although not vast) but makes enough of a difference that it becomes a "Must Have" for Guilds engaged in competitive play.
It's usualy not the single big obvious thing but rather death by a thousand little cuts that all add together that start turning a game into something where competition is all about the players willingness to spend money.
Except that the article isn't giving you the full story. Penny went through a full re-branding attempt which ALSO included removing many brands they used to carry from the shelves and replacing them with newer, "hipper" and more expensive brands. End result, people no longer had the option to buy what they were used to buying at Penny because the store no longer carried it. I wouldn't exactly call that "strictly better" for thier customers. (http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/jcpenneys-real-problem-fashions-ron-johnson /)
Note that in terms of the specific discussion of the Alignment System for PFO, I (as I'm sure is well known by now) fall into the camp of not having one and simply letting people RP thier characters as they choose. My arguements for such are as follows:
- From an engineering standpoint I believe it is simply far too difficult to impliment well and will result in a system that is badly flawed, does not work as intended and will be easly circumvented. Resulting in a huge expenditure of reasources that could be better put toward other systems.
- I don't believe it's actualy neccesary to create the type of game GW seems to want to create.
- It's an impossibly simplistic model for human behavior that doesn't fit well.... even in the sort of Cosmology represented by the Pathfinder Universe.
- It's implimentation eliminates or reduces the possibility for OTHER sorts of activities....such as internal Diversity, Rivalry, Conflict and Drama within settlements and organizations.
- In implimentation it will probably end up detracting from the enjoyment of the game for most of PFO's player-base more then it adds.
That said.....I don't neccesarly believe that games with more simplistic factional models such as WoW or DAOC are worse or better then PFO...they are intended to provide a different sort of play experience for thier audiences.....and I actualy tend to enjoy the sort of play experience provided by such strict systems sometimes myself. Importantly though, the play experience provided by those systems mesh well with general play experience those games aim for and is easy to impliment in practical terms. I remain to be convinced how PFO's will....and though I don't doubt GW's talent..I have serious reservations about how well the mechanism will actualy work in practice.
I think you have a flaw in your arguement in two areas....
- The first area is failing to look at the distinction between the universe as a whole and one specific activity that is a subset of that universe. It is probably "strictly better" that some game called "Crazy Chess" exists in the Universe as a whole for those who enjoy it to play it. That does not automaticaly make "Crazy Chess" a strictly better game then Chess and we could probably observe that in a practical sense by observing the number of players who are playing and enjoying Chess. Since a games primary function is to provide enjoyment, one that provides alot of enjoyment can't really be considered worse then one which provides little enjoyment. Nor does it mean that all Chess-like games should adopt "Crazy Chess" rule-sets since that would actualy ELIMINATE the choice of playing regular chess for those who enjoyed it. For any given individual the existence of "Crazy Chess" might be better or NEUTRAL....since if they do not care for "Crazy Chess" it's existence provides no real value to them.
- The second area of failing is taking into account that the existance of one choice WILL neccesarly effect others...possibly to the extent of removing them. This is especialy important when considering that not all individuals are rationale or altruistic actors. For example, it is probably NOT "strictly better" to give every person the choice to destroy the planet at any time they choose....since some person will inevitably take that choice thereby removing all other choices from everyone.
My Philosophy: Games are supposed to be about PLAYING games not some fantasy medieval version of the Home Shopping Network. When there is competition involved it's supposed to be a measure of the individuals ability to PLAY the game...not their willingness to spend money. If that's all we really want to measure, you and I don't need a game to do that. We can stand around burning dollar bills until one of us decides to stop. When I'm in a FPRPG, I want to divorce myself from real world considerations as much as possible.
The secret is I actualy have pretty deep pockets. I'd gladly pay $100 per month for a quality game that DIDN'T resort to cash shops. When you think about it, $1000 per year is pretty cheap as far as hobbies go. I often spend that much or more on my other hobbies.
That's not the issue, never been. For the "GAMER" games are supposed to be about playing the game. Just as for the sportsman it's about playing the sport. It's not even "Winning" that's important. That's where Ryan gets it wrong about alot of us old-schoolers. How one comports oneself on the playing field is alot more important then whether a W or an L goes into the results column. Unfortunately we seem to be raising a whole generation of Lance Armstrongs who don't seem to understand that concept.
It's what make Sports or Games different then going to see a movie or going to the amusement park or going out to dinner. They aren't just any old "entertainment activity".....they are in very specific categories.
Bringslite most sports/games differentiate between what PREPARES the player to play (e.g. happens OFF the field/OUT of the game) and what happens as a course of play (e.g. ON the field/IN the game)....and YES I believe most individuals including myself would regard those specific examples as UNFAIR since a sport/game is intended to be a measure of the players ability at the sport/game not how deep their wallet is.
Even with cash spent off the field it's gotten to be enough of a problem in proffesional sports that many leagues have instituted SALARY CAPS, have they not?
Except that in games the choices available to one do not exist in a vacume since both the A.I. if the game has one and other players will adapt to the new choices availble changing ones experience of the game even if one did not neccesarly avail oneself of the wider set of options. How could that possibly be said to be "strictly better" for the player irregardless of thier subjective tastes?
If Chess were changed to allow any play peice to move in the same fashion as any other piece (i.e. pawn moves as queen) that would not make for a "strictly better" game since it drasticaly changes the player experience of the game...unless the player were playing BOTH sides by himself and agreed to not use the new movement options if he did not enjoy them. If the player were to play against the A.I. or another player...the wider movement rules would be used and change the players experience regardless of whether he wished it or not.
I believe the dynamic changes a bit when you have games that involve DIRECT PLAYER COMPETITION. It may simply be an "achiever" that feels cheated when you allow someone to purchase a "shortcut" that gets a player toward an end goal more quickly.....and I'll admit from a purest persepective that may well apply to my feelings.
However when players are in direct competition with one another (as much of PFO seems geared toward). However, I believe a much broader base of people would consider it "cheating" to allow players to purchase direct play advantages when players are in direct competition. Even when said advantages may be achievable in play through other means.
Is it acceptable to purchase on demand power plays in hockey or penalty shots in soccer or basketball? Many developers seem intent on convincing us that it is. I remain unconvinced.....I also believe players ARE cheating when purchasing advantages in PVE, however in that instance the effect is largely limited to the individual themselves....with competitive play others are involved as well.
Agree to disagree, Nihimon. There is a huge market for stolen ID's and stolen credit cards. That doesn't mean that stolen ID's and stolen credit card info should have a legitimate market channel.
Some people want all sorts of things that are not ethical and come at the expense of others.
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@GrumpyMel - I think letting people spend real money to make playing my game more fun is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Fair enough. I simply offer for your consideration that things which enhance some peoples fun, detract from others and taken to an extreme will push an activity into something that is no longer even considered a "game" by many.
Example: If a team in softball were allowed to purchase extra "strikes" or "outs" some people might consider that "fun" others wouldn't and would no longer consider said activity a "game" anymore. It might be an "interactive form of entertainment" but "games" tend to have very strict definitions for some of us... YMMV.
Respectfully, I believe this is an unfair characterization of the objections to the proposed systems. Many of the people here who have spoke criticaly of the proposed system have been very receptive of other mechanisms of PFO that have deviated radicaly from the percieved "MMO norm". So I don't believe it's fair to chalk criticism up simply to resistance to change.
Furthermore, I believe it's a little bit presumptous to categorize said system as being "better for them" in a game designed to provide entertainment. Since entertainment is ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE, one mans "awesome" is anothers "sucks raw eggs". The system hasn't even been implimented yet, so we don't even have any objective proof of how well it will function to meet it's own objectives. However, even assuming the system performs flawlessly according to it's own specifications. If those specifications inhibit an individuals entertainment in an activity whose sole purpose it to entertain, it can hardly be described as "better" for said individual. At best you could say the mechanism is well suited for it's INTENDED AUDIENCE. YMMV.
Ryan Dancey wrote:
If you can invent a system that keeps people from exchanging real money for virtual goods, while still retaining the idea that characters should be able to exchange items and buy and sell items on an In-game market economy, you will be rich beyond imagining. Every MMO publisher on earth will license your idea - and not a few national governments will too.
Respectfully, there is a difference between being able to prevent something from being sold through a black market and officialy sanctioning the sale of something through a Developer provided/supported mechanism. Same holds true for real world goods as well. At least forcing someone to use black-market channels imposes some risks and downsides (market inflation, security threats, stolen ID's/Payment Info) that don't exist through legitimately sanctioned channels.
I'm not going to beat GW about the head for needing to bend to the economic pressures of running an MMO today and frankly you guys seem to be going for one of the least egrigious examples of RMT that I've seen. Still that doesn't mean that being unable to prevent something is the ethical or functional equivalent of officialy supporting it. I'm sure you guys will be unable to prevent exploits or account hacking with 100 percent surety...but that doesn't mean you are going to officialy condone thier use and provide a sanctioned mechanism to engage in such activity.
Hobs the Short wrote:
I'm with Hobs on this one. However, PFO really doesn't strike me as much of a "gear" game in the same sense that most other MMO's are....so while buyng gear with RMT is still kinda offensive from an ideological standpoint....in the end, I don't think it really gets one all that much in terms of real power in PFO. Hopefully I'm not wrong about that assumption.
Certainly Mel. Yet the novels in which those urban settings are described are not intended to provide reason for large scale multiplayer warfare either. Different context. Different purpose.
No one ever really needed a mechanical alignment system for large scale multi-player warfare before....
"Gentlemen here stands MacDonald for Charles Edward Stuart, there stands Campbell for William the Butcher. Gentlemen CHARGE!"
As a side note....
People generaly don't FORM settlements they are BORN into them. Thier living arrangements are often at least as much influenced by NECCESSITY or PRACTICALITY as IDEOLOGY. They don't usualy have the luxury of absolute knowledge let alone fine grained control over everyone who lives within thier community. It would not be uncommon for many characters to not actualy CARE about the ideology of all those who lived within the same settlement as they. While others would purposefully seek out communities with differening alignments in hopes of changing them (for good or ill).
In other words, I think your definition of "correct" Role-Playing is rather straight-jacketed.
I suspect the proposed system will end up with players mechanicaly gaming (OOC behavior) enough to remain within thier intended settlement and intended alignment and then role-playing around things while doing thier level best to ignore the mechanical alignment system as proposed.
From the standpoint of simply making a game that had nothing to do with FPRPG's the alignment system for settlements would be an interesting choice.
Part of my problem is that with the given system we will end up with settlements (even organizations) that don't at all resemble what we would typical see in table-top gaming or fantasy based fiction (let alone the real world).
Have we not ALL seen towns in fantasy fiction, RPG's and table-top campaigns with LG temples AND seedy sections with hidden Thieves Guilds within the same Settlement? Self-centered merchants? Altruistic Healers? Drunken Mercenaries and Flamboyant Rakes living just a few blocks away from stoic priests and disciplined scholars?
Even within the same organizations (Orders of Knights, Palace Courts, Mercenary Companies, Merchant Houses, Barbarian Tribes, etc) we see individuals with vastly diffrent alignment, behanviors, tempraments and motivations.
That IS a large part of what creates drama, intrigue, mystery and interest in such stories.
Otherwise we would end up with cartoonish, card-board cut-out worlds where all the People of Ni would be shining paragons of virtue and all the citizens of Lo would be mustache twirling villians. Which frankly is a little boring once you get beyond watching Dora the Explorer.
That said, I don't expect the mechanics are going to change to a large degree. We're just going to have to figure out some way to work around them. YMMV.
You are discounting the rather obvious possibilty that the bandit knows because they have someone involved with the merchants operation (apprentice, guard, customer, etc) feeding them information. As I understand it, this is a rather common way for both modern day and historical pirates to operate.
The old, grab whatever ship you happen to run accross, doesn't tend to work out very well because you are as likely to end up with a cargo hold full of toilet paper as you are one full of gold...and you may just end up running into a ship that outguns you.
I'm not really very keen on bandits gaining knowledge of the merchants cargo in the manner you describe because it eliminates an important aspect of PLAYER SKILL and decision making (intelligence gathering) within the game. There are things that character skills should do for you like remaining hidden or seeing through disguises or spotting someone stealthing along behind....but you need to leave SOME things upto player skill....and the kind of omnicience to see through boxes and tarps (absent magic - which could also have magical countermeasures against) really shouldn't be around. We have to leave something upto the player aside from just how to build thier character. YMMV.
Like so many things in PFO it will be an economic equation and the most successfull bandits will likely need to bring a variety of skills to the table.
For example, a bandit group which is solely focused on combat ability may have the ability to take on more difficult prey but it will likely spend alot of it's time taking on less rewarding prey, getting less return for the valueables it reaps and running hire risks.
You have to remember that the bandits TIME is a finite resource as well. If the bandit group is spending all it's time taking down merchants that are hauling 5gp worth of goods when it could have spent the same time taking down merchants that are worth 30gp then it is not operating very efficiently.
I think the most effective bandits will spend alot of focus up front in intelligence gathering to determine merchants that are carying valuable goods. The kind of protection those merchants have and what sort of anti-bandit activity they are likely to encounter.
Taking on a merchant caravan that they have poor chances of defeating or in an area where they have good chances of encountering law enforcment patrols that can defeat them is a bad bargain for bandits as well...even if the bandits aren't carrying much valuable that they can lose...they will lose thier own TIME which is a resource that could have been expended more sucessfully.
Likewise bandits will probably need some skill at hiding thier presence from merchants (so as not to risk loosing thier prey) and from law enforcement hunting them. They also want to have reasonable skills in cashing in on (fencing) the goods that they do take...or they are wasting alot of money there.
They will, of course, need sufficient combat power to do thier work...but too much focus on that and not enough on the other aspects will be counterproductive. Note when I speak about skill/focus here I am talking about BOTH mechanical skill (i.e. I have level 5 in "swords") and PLAYER skill.
The same will hold true for merchants, guards and bandit hunters. Everything is a balance of judging the right balance of skills and resource expenditures.....and yes, I'm sure for some merchants some of the time it will be a better economic decision just to pay the bandits or accept a few lost cargo's.
Aside what I have mentioned here...I fully expect MOST bandits (present company excepted) will end up being mindless thugs who go out with little discipline or pre-planning who go out as a small handfull, trying to focus solely on thier combat abilities and looking to "strike it rich" by preying on others. They won't be very effective but they likely will be pretty common...bandits who operate like Bluddwulfs group are going to be the exception to the rule (IMO), it simply involves too much (real world) forethought and discipline for the typical "I hurtz you" guy.
I generaly expect that fighting in a formaly declared War (within whatever bounds GW sets for such activity) will have no effect on Alignment.
Declaration of War may have some but I would expect that might be the Alignment of the Settlement or at most the Leaders of the Settlement rather then individual members.
I would hope that Settlements would have some method of being able to declare war without major negative impact to Alignment....assuming appropriate pre-conditions were in place and process was properly caried out....but that may be a bit too complex a mechanic for GW to want to get into?
Traps that destroy the contents of a chest (or even render a wagon unusable) make sense. It increases the potential cost of the bandit to simply take something rather then work out some sort of deal. As with anything, if the merchant worked out a deal and THEN played the bandit false they'd probably open themselves up for special retribution (no one likes "Oathbreakers" of any flavor).
However for the guy going out to just kill and loot a traveling merchant...it increases the risk that they'll lose thier ill-gotten gains. One of course assumes that the bandit can aquire ranks in disarm trap to avoid such a thing...but that is a good thing (tm)....anything that increases the importance of greater diversity in skill and more interesting gameplay options ends up being good for the game (IMO).
Clearly the "No One Expects the INQUSITION" routiene is fair play for merchants just as the whole jumping out of the bushes in surprise is fair play for bandits. It's legitimate game-play for merchants to try to turn things around on bandits upon occasion. As long as both cunning and skill are reasonably involved in the outcome....I don't think there should be any room for complaint on either side.
A tarp spread over a wagon-bed is certainly within the technology means for the setting. As are just simple disguises or even magic (illusions, etc). Both sides should have an opportunity to work to determin what's really going.
That said... it's probably not something that would make economic sense for a simple merchant to pull too often....but one that's carrying high value magical components??? I could totaly see a powerfull merchant consortium pulling that sort of stunt if a bandit group hit them too many times to the point they were PO'd enough to want to set an example.
I could also see merchants as a good vehicle for smuggling contra-band goods and individuals into a settlement....again completely fair game-play as long as the guards have some chance through a combination of vigilence and skill of catching it. It's all about opposed game-play....another and very cool way to represent PvP aside from the typical knock sword against skull.
I agree that any in-game capture mechanic is going to seem arbitrary to a certain degree. But to my mind, that degree is on a scale. If we can find a mechanism that feels like it is on the lower end of that scale but still results in a workable game mechanic...that's a plus in my book.
- On the assasination thing. Does that mean the best defence for a settlement's DI is to keep leaders logged off in time of War? Seems a bit of an exploit to me.
- One would assume that an assasination of a settlements leaders or sabotage of it's buildings AUTOMATICALY made the person doing it a CRIMINAL within that settlement, so there shouldn't be any negative implication in terms of alignment for going after them once the act was commited.
- I would suggest that settlements NOT be capturable outside a declared State of War. I'd also suggest that there be a timer between the declaration and the State coming into effect. You can hose a settlements DI outside of that all you want...but the actual capture should only be applicable during War. That helps deal with the issue of it being a game and players being able to feel like they can still play without needing to be logged in 24/7/365. Furthermore, it does mirror reality a bit. Within any society there are accepted rules for behavior...even in conflicts...and there tend to be pretty serious ramifications for groups that violate said rules. Remember the player groups represent fairly small powers within the wider world.....even an Evil human kingdom (especialy LE) isn't going to want to be viewed in the same light as a bunch of maurading orcs....who tend to be enemies of ALL civilzed societies. YMMV. (At the VERY LEAST. There should be a VERY SERIOUS reputation hit for not waiting for an official declaration to take place.)
Tork Shaw wrote:
Understood. As players we'll tend to ask for the "kitchen sink" in terms of thing we think are cool, it's understood that you can't always offer the "kitchen sink" and sometimes it doesn't make sense to do so.
The mechanic of not opening up the hall for capture until a certain DI threshold is met and using DI to represent loss of control of a settlement could totaly work. Only thing I would worry about a bit is you guys making sure to only have things effect DI which pretty much make sense in terms of making a settlement vulnerable to capture.
For example....not being able to afford to pay ones (NPC) guards or having the (PC) "Captain of the Guards" (If that's one of the leadership positions you guys impliment for settlements) assasinated probably has a big effect on making a settlement vulnerable...... lacking an Art Exhibition Hall, probably not so much.
Maybe the DI's could be weighted on how they effect the possibility of capture with security being given more emphasis then culture for example?
Also, you may want to think about the actual "Hall Capture" mechanism a bit. The "1 guy doing an action uninterrupted for x seconds" seems like it might be a bit gamey/quirky/simplistic. I've seen some FPS games use what I think are better capture mechanics. Usualy it's something like each active defender in the area pushes a capture meter 1 tick toward the defenders side, each active attacker in the area pushes the capture meter one tic toward the attackers side. Maybe with a max number of points per tick for either side. If the meter ever gets all the way to the attackers side, it means victory. IMO that is a little better in representing what controling an area really means. YMMV.
Thanks for the info. The DI thing could work as well though it struck me as playing alot of different roles. I figured that using a value that was seperate (although able to be affected by) from DI would allow for more flexability...as you could change the value of how something effected "capturing" the city without neccesarly effecting the other things that DI does in the game. I know you guys tend to like to reuse data fields for multiple things...but given the small number of settlements that will be in the game, I don't think there would be much resource cost in adding more data fields to them. Anyway it's a thought.
That could work as well. It's really just a slightly different way of expressing the same concept. The main point is that it's a system that moves away from "Do X Action = Win" and abstracts things to a point based system where you can assign point values to different actions until some threshold or limit is reached...and then tweak the point values as feels appropriate. It's a much more open system where you can add new things that have values later on to expand upon the system.
Either way would work....although yours does to seem to keep to a theme that is more in Spirit of Pathfinder. I'm actualy less concerned about the specific details at this point....as those can always be played around with.....then them going with a system that affords them a high level of flexability.
Nihimon, I'd say that would depend upon what the settlement has built in terms of interior structures. I don't think it, neccessarly, makes for the defender to designate a single interior choke point as the only place they need to defend anymore then it does for the attacker to only need to concentrate on attacking a single point. Both sides probably should get a certain leeway as to how they approach defense or offense into a settlement.....but ultimately neither is going to be able to be completely determinative in what it means to "control that settlement".If you are trying to defend New York....you can no more say "as long as we got the mayor's office everythings ok"....then an attacker can say "we only need to take the mayors office".....what control means is going to depend alot upon how the settlement has grown.....Although I DO believe you should be able to design a settlement where only one point is important...as long as you are willing to forgo the benefits of what the other points might bring you.
As an aside....it might be a benefit for GW to try spread combat out a little more if possible from a purely technical persepective. I have no doubt that they are going to be working on systems to handle the load of high capacity battles....but the more they can naturaly spread battles out a bit....the less extreme those systems need to be.