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Lots of details on the next two upcoming Alpha release milestones, details of a special promotions we're running in the Goblinworks.com Shop, an alert about a Soon To Be Announced engagement with Fear the Boot, and more!
There are two kinds of harvesting.
Easy: You walk up to a harvesting node, and extract the resource it contains. Right now, if you are not threatened by a PvE mob, you won't be interrupted by a PvE feature while you do the extraction.
Hard: You walk up to a harvesting node, start to extract the resource it contains, and it gushers. To get the full value out of a gusher you have to deploy a harvesting kit. Once that kit is deployed, it begins to attract monsters. There's no mechanical reason we couldn't spawn particularly challenging monsters in the area to be attracted to the harvesting kit. This is a "dial" we can adjust to ramp up or down the challenge level of the experience.
Most resources in the economy will come from Hard Mode gushers not Easy Mode harvesting. Easy Mode will give you a trickle of usable assets to sell. Hard Mode will give you a resource stream that you can leverage into a meaningful amount of commercial activity at scale.
"Serious Harvesters" are going to be focused on Hard Mode because that is where the real "money" will be. Easy Mode harvesting will be something you do as you train up to be able to engage in serious Hard Mode harvesting, or something you do as a distraction to something else - a convenient way to add value to being in the wild pursuing some other goal.
What you are seeing in Alpha right now is all Easy Mode.
If you are a resource locust because you're trying to economically damage your opponents, that's the system working as intended and there are lots of ways your opponents can mitigate that problem.
There's a corner case where you have an alt account (or character) do it and try to avoid some of those mitigation factors. But that's any easy corner case to detect and resolve: "Dear customer service, we keep finding people in nearby hexes strip mining and they're all aligned with NPC settlements and we can't get rid of them without taking Rep and Alignment hits, please make them stop."
I think that in the case outlined by Cheatle the value of the resources in the hex being strip mined would either skyrocket, drawing attention from all over the server, or the economic impact would be inconsequential and be more of a nuisance than a significant problem.
Roving bands of resource locusts sound scary in theory but the kinds of people who want to inflict pointless grief on others just won't have the ability to keep doing it long enough to be meaningful. Being a resource locust in the context of Settlemtent v Settlemtment conflict is more likely but also has many more mitigating vectors.
If some group does it in ways that are abuseive and harmful to the game we will tell them to stop and if they don't stop, we'll boot them. It's not like they can do it stealthily.
There were often multiple D&D games in the market at the same time. There are two D&D MMOs in the market now. I don't see Obsidian's efforts as any more likely to be competitive directly with us than the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.
I think that anything that makes Pathfinder stronger makes Goblinworks stronger.
You will get 100XP per hour. I think the plan is to start characters with 1,000XP.
But they'll start with peasant clothes and wood clubs, not armor, weapons, staves, wands, and implements. So the "startup economy" will be a lot more interesting.
Nihimon probably has one of the most powerful characters in the game. Lisa has another but she couldn't play last night. Both of them have been playing lots and lots of hours, but Nihimon has also been crafting better gear (Lisa didn't know how to craft until last week).
Mac Knife is a multclassed character. He has levels from all 4 classes. Last night I had him wearing his best armor, and using a greatsword and his cleric staff so he could cast heals. In 1:1 fights with Nihimon he was toast.
So I think some of the characters you're seeing are starting to edge into the "long middle" level of power but even there they're clearly not equally powerful (with lots of caveats for the fact that important game mechanics like encumbrance, ammo, sneak attack, consuambles, etc. aren't working yet).
Some of the Darksiders were made on Friday so they were essentially the equivalent of a throw-away newb character. They did ok. :)
I think you guys have now entered the realm of needing to agree to disagree. You all make great points and there is merit to both sides of the argument. This is a decision we've made after a lot of consideration about how it will affect the game and we'll just have to see what happens in actual play. I do not think it will be a materially significant effect. If we are wrong, we'll make adjustments.
The issue of one per account is a limiting factor. It is essentially saying there's a $180 annual upkeep cost ($15/mo times 12 months). We are dipping our toes into this water very, very carefully. We can always increase the value of an item but it is very, very hard to decrease that value. Being limited to 1 per account now means that we are artificially limiting demand. Of course over time if we see that we don't need to do that, for whatever reasons, we can change that limit or remove it altogether. But if we started with no limit and then we determined it was in the best interests of the game to impose a limit, it would be either manifestly unfair to the people who bought the item when there was no limit to have a limit imposed, or to people who bought the item after the limit was imposed to play with people who had been grandfathered in under an older policy.
So for now, it's 1 per account. Actually, there's some debate inside the development team if it should have been EITHER one Base Camp OR one Smallholding per account, but that debate happened after we put the items in the store so we are not going to change that policy now. It's one of each per account.
The plan is for Outposts and Points of Interest to be a superset of the functionality of Smallholdings. Those structures have not been designed yet - their subsystems remain in flux. But in some configurations, Outposts and/or Points of Interest will do everything Smallholdings do, and more. Those structures will be built by player characters no not be premium items.
It's important to remember that Alpha access is not the same as an Alpha account. The former lets you play in Alpha. The latter lets you play in Alpha, get one month of game time for every month of Early Enrollment, all the Daily Deal items, invitations to Monster Casting, and we'll continue to add value to the Alpha Accounts going forward.
We are not giving people Alpha Accounts. We are giving them Alpha access.
The Memorial of Honor will be an in-game location that you can visit and see your name enscribed for all time. It will likely have some other clever features too. :)
The team is scrubbing the data we got from the Pledge Manager and as soon as we're confident that it's as error free as we can make it, we're going to be updating everyone's account pages. Shortly thereafter we will have a system to distribute Adventurer accounts.
Lee is still getting new Guilds sending him info. I think we're going to talk about the long-term Land Rush applications soon and then we'll reconfigure that system. There's a lot of upside to having a way for MMO Guilds to get some visibility for Pathfinder Online and for the Land Rush Settlements to recruit.
We use the same definition that the general consensus of the MMO community uses: pay to win means purchasing a meaningful mechanical advantage not otherwise available via in-game mechanics.
Certainly we will sell some things that are useful, and great to own. We want to make valuable items available for sale to those players with the interest and ability to buy them. Our commitment is and has been that such things won't provide a meaningful mechanical advantage that you cannot get just by playing the game.
We also are going to avoid selling things that are likely to materially disrupt the market for player-character crafted goods or block areas of the harvesting/refining/crafting system from being good investments of time and effort.
You need to have at least Explorer level account access to add a Base Camp or a Smallholding to your order. Right now the store is automatically including Explorer access in the purchase. We're going to talk about the logic of how that works tomorrow and we may make some changes to how that system works.
If you have Open Enrollment access, you can upgrade to Explorer, Early, or Alpha Enrollment and get $35 off the price.
If you have Explorer access, you can upgrade to Early or Alpha Enrollment and get $50 of the price.
If you have Early Enrollment, you can upgrade to Alpha Enrollment and get $100 off the price.
Crafting is rocking!
You can craft a wide variety of arms & armor. You can craft implements (but they don't do anything yet since the consumables system has not yet been deployed). You can craft wizard staves and wands, and cleric divine magic casting items.
The whole crafting system is implemented - you harvest raw materials, process them into components, and use the components to make finished goods, which you can equip and use in-game. Now we just focus on making a lot more "objects" for this system!
Currently there is only one source of Coal in the game - the "honeyhole" hex in the upper left corner of the map. Since coal is required for most of the metal items, those of us who have been crafting those metal objects have spent a lot of time in that hex. :) I heard a rumor that Lee is changing the drop percentages so that more Coal will appear in a week or two.
All the basic trainers are in the game now for harvesting skills, processing skills, and crafting skills. All the basic facilities are in the game to process raw materials and craft finished goods. There's a known bug that has affected the Tannery in Sotterhill, but the Tannery in Osterberg works so that crafting chain is open, you just have to make a little journey when you need something in the other Settlement.
Yes, I did set an alarm on my calendar so I would know when my first suit of + armor was crafted so I could log in and try it on. :) And it was awesome.
The tree density is about right for forests based on the kind of mechanics that we are going to have in the game. There are practical limits to how many trees we put I to the environment and how tough it is to render a frame, and we are balancing speed vs. density.
Some of the things you're asking about like sniping from cover have to be mechanics not visual effects anyway - "sniping" needs to be a condition, not an environmental positioning.
The purpose of the mobs is to be farmed for loot. They don't produce XP.
While it may be unsatisfying to be killing mobs that are dumb, the opponents you need to be worried about won't be dumb. They'll be other humans. The tactics that work against the dumb AI mobs won't work against coordinated groups of human opponents.
This is similar to the situation in EVE where for many, many years the "rats" - AI mobs - were dumb as stumps. It was OK because people treated them as resources to be farmed not challenges to be overcome. There were enough human threats to make the lack of AI for the mobs tolerable.
I am working on a bunch of material that will eventually become a blog about what we are going to get done in Alpha and therefore what the game state will be when we begin Early Enrollment but I want to be sure those estimates are solid before we describe them. I would like to do a little underpromise/overdeliver instead of the converse.
There are three issues that we have to consider.
The first is the issue of hardware resources and user experience. We do not know, yet, the kinds of loads that we can support with our technology. The only way to really determine this is to run the systems under daily use and monitor their performance. We will find lots of ways to optimize over time so whatever we start with will improve as we invest resources in optimization but we won't really know what we will be able to support until we have real-life data.
So the first question we need to answer is "how many active characters can the systems sustain". We are 90% confident that we can support 1 logged in character per account for our projected number of accounts through 2017, so we think that is a low-risk baseline.
Obviously we can likely support many more.
There are two variables: Number of logged in characters per account, and number of accounts.
Depending on how we alter these values we will get different amounts of load on the system. Since we cannot know in advance how that load will affect the experience of the players we have to cautiously start with small values for number of characters and number of accounts and gradually raise them while monitoring performance to see what the effects are.
Due to our architecture this is not a single problem. We will have to look at logical-server-wide issues as well as physical-server issues. We may find that because of how character densities develop during play that a few physical-servers are overburdened, even if the logical-server is not. We may therefore have to think about ways to create natural forces in the game that disburse those concentrations, think about ways to augment the hardware for the impacted physical-servers, think about ways to distribute the loads to multiple physical-servers, etc.
These are common problems for MMOs and while we know we do not know what we will have to do, we do know that we will have to confront them.
Second, we have to consider issues of limited in-game resources. The most limited in-game resource is character names. People place a high value on character names and there are active markets for character names. The more accounts we allow people to create with little or no cost the more character names will be soaked up by people who intend to hold those names and try to sell them.
There are probably a dozen other in-game resources with similar constraints (Chartered Company names is an easy to identify one). Because of this we need to think through the implications of how we enable lots of accounts with no cost to be created. There are well understood ways to deal with these problems like having a character naming system that reverts unused character names after a certain period of inactivity, etc. But each of those systems requires the allocation of resources to implement - resources which could be better spent on adding new features, adding new components to existing features, and polishing and bug fixes.
Third, we have to consider the effects of character density on game systems. We have a game economy that is based on being able to do useful things with relatively unskilled characters. That implies that throw-away alt accounts have a substantial economic value, and that implies that people will be willing to manage legions of them to extract that value. That works at cross-purposes to our goal of making money by operating the game, and it impacts the experience of paying players.
The counter-argument is that many MMOs now offer a free trial or outright free play as a way to increase the total population of the game with the idea that larger populations translate into more satisfying game experiences for paying players. As the economic success of this model is effectively unquestionable at this juncture that's a very compelling argument.
However virtually all the games where that model is employed are games that are sharded. The operators can spin up an infinite number of shards to distribute loads. Since we intend to have one shard, the effects of lots of free players cannot be diluted in relation to the number of paying players. This suggests that a simple play-for-free option won't work for our game, at least at the start where the amount of paying players will be low.
I think that we will likely begin with a 1:1 ratio between paying characters and active characters. In other words, to begin, you'll have to pay for a character to be "active" in order to log that character into the game. The minimum amount of payment I expect we will begin with is a 30 day time increment. (There are some oddities because we'll have subscriptions and yes that means that subscribers pay for 28 days in February and someone who buys 30 days of time and uses it on Feb 1 will get 2 "extra" days. But there are 365 days in the year so if you are a full-year subscriber you will get 5 more "extra" days than someone who bought twelve 30-day time increments.)
There is no specific reason we should not let you pay for multiple characters to be "active" on a given account. There's no functional difference between 1 person paying for 1,000 characters and 1,000 people paying for 1 character. In fact, trying to do something useful with 1,000 characters will be suboptimal considering the network topology between us and you, but if you want to saturate the network and accept the downsides, who are we to argue?
The people who got game time with their Kickstarter Rewards will get tokens equal to the number of months of game time included with those Rewards. They'll be able to chose when to use those tokens, and the tokens will be 30 day tokens. So if you wanted to play in the 1st month you were eligible for Early Enrollment, you'd use 1 token, get 30 days of game time, and then if you did not use another token, your character would become inactive and you could not log that character into the game. If you had more tokens they would sit in your account management screen until you decided to use one more more. You will therefore control when you use the game time you have received.
Inactive characters won't get XP. They probably should not be able to have crafting jobs that continue to advance, nor count for any "number of character" mechanics. There may be issues in implementing those rules in the short term and for the sake of speed and simplicity we might not try to implement those limits to begin with, so there could be some gamesmanship around doing things on the last day of a character's active game time which break the spirit of this system. We will evaluate the severity and impact of those corner cases if and when the issue becomes meaningful.
At some point I would like to have some mechanism for a test account. These are virtually required once the game reaches a certain level of population - after the early adopter pool is exhausted, later adopters are very wary of playing a game they cannot try before they buy. But that is a problem for a much later day, maybe not even before Open Enrollment.
There is a potential that we may decide we have the ability to support some amount of "Free to Play" accounts. That would be awesome from a population experience perspective. If it is also awesome from a revenue cost perspective and a game mechanic perspective, we'd love to do it. But it is too early to determine if it is possible, or desirable.
If coin has weight and mass, the economy becomes crippled. Merchants cannot move enough coins fast enough to the market hubs to engage in production at scale. As a result, Letters of Credit (LOCs) will emerge to replace coin. These will be agreements between players to credit and debt large amounts of coin by proxy. The LOC system is opaque to us which means it will be filled with rampant fraud and abuse - but at the top end, where a web of absolute trust will develop, really big concerns will have a workable system. Result: new players, players excluded from the top end, and anyone other than a documented "Real Person" will be unable to operate in the LOC economy and will be cut out of becoming a meaningful concern in production.
If coin has no weight or mass, the Settlement will divide its wealth among a large number of proxy characters that will be created expressly for this purpose. The wealth will be loaded onto them, perhaps a several hundred or a thousand of them, and in waves they'll scatter from the Settlement in all directions of the compass. When they have reached a safe distance, they'll log off. After the battle is over, they'll be carefully logged back in, one at a time, when local security can be ensured, and their coin will be transferred out of the area under guard, or, if the Settlement was saved, they'll run back to the Settlement and re-deposit the coins. Other players might manage to stop a small number of these runners, but they'll never get more than a tiny fraction of the coin.
Remember that this extraction isn't going to happen on the day of the siege. Sieges take a long time to prepare and are the culmination of weeks of effort and skirmishes and reduction of outer defenses and structures. The Settlement will have days and days of time to prepare to protect their wealth. So they always will.
Result will be a system (looting Settlements) that rarely actually gets used.
Mechanic: If you destroy a Settlement, you get some portion of the coin in that Settlement
Behavior: If a group feels there's a reasonable chance they might lose that Settlement, they'll pull every unneeded coin out of that Settlement and move it to a secure location.
Result: A game mechanic that has no material impact on play except for the rare corner case where a group was cohesive enough to organize and create a Settlement, but not cohesive enough to do the obvious thing when that Settlement comes under siege.
Lets say that the average cost for a reasonably good item that is not often threaded but is often used (i.e. it will be consumed regularly via destruction) is 1,000 coin. Based on the current rate of coin drop that is not a very expensive item.
Let's say we have 50,000 active players in the game, of which 1% consume this item weekly. That's 500 units being consumed a week, or 500,000 coin of value.
So someone who wants to operate at the top of this market is looking at making multiple-hundreds of thousands of coin valued transactions on a regular basis.
And that's just a fairly low level item.
Let's think about commodities. Right now a steel sword requires 3 steel ingots. Steel ingots require 10 iron ore. So that's 30 iron ore per sword.
Let's assume that 20% of the player population has a sword, and they lose that sword through misadventure once a month. 10,000 swords a month requires 300,000 iron ore to be mined. Will the price of that iron ore be 1 coin? Several? Even if it is just 1 coin, 300,000 coins of value per month are going to be moving through the economy. And that's just for a low-level sword.
You can see that very quickly, at fairly small player populations (compared to Theme Park MMOs) we are getting into the realm where million-coin accounts are not going to be exceptional - they'll be basic capitalization levels for the top end of the crafting, harvesting, and logistics groups.
And that's before we even begin dealing with the effects of warfare, major character-built structures, etc.
I think that right now Coal is the fundamental unit of account but that may just be a bad assumption.
You need Coal to make magic swords and everyone is going to want a magic sword and Coal only drops in any meaningful amount in one hex. Iron (the other major component for swords) is dropped all over the map. So the rate at which swords can be made is dependent on Coal, which means Coal is therefore a proxy for value in the game's economy.
You also need Leather Strips. I do not have the Leather Strips recipe. But I really really want one.
BTW, I will trade Coal for recipes and recipes for Coal. If you wanna make a deal, post your offer here or on the Alpha Forums so everyone in Alpha can see the market prices.
@H20sw - we discussed our options. In the end, based on resources and other limitations, we could have Alpha forums now and keep them closed to all but Alpha participants, or wait several weeks and have forums that everyone can access. This is an internal resource allocation thing, not a technical limit of the software.
We decided we would rather have the Alpha forums now, and deploy the tech talent on other features and polish in game even if that meant they're going to be of limited availability.
Here's the difference between EVE and Pathfinder Online.
In EVE, you have a queue of skills your character will train. If the time required to train one of those skills exceeds 24 hours, you can queue it up but you can't queue anything after that long training time.
So you could pay for a monthly EVE sub, and manage your skill queue, training skills and doing nothing else. (You can buy a PLEX, and sell it on the in-game market for ISK, use that ISK to buy the necessary skill books to unlock new skills to train, all without leaving the busiest market hub in the game). You could, given unlimited time and unlimited PLEX, train every skill in the game to the maximum level.
Skills are prerequisites for using various ship hulls and ship modules. They also have effects on your character's abilities.
So technically you could sit in that market hub paying for monthly subscription time and buying skill books with PLEX and train all the skills you need to fly the largest ship in the game fully equipped with the most powerful modules in the game, and provided you could get to a place where you can fly that ship, and that someone would transfer ownership of one to you, with the modules included, you could board it, and take command, never having flown a single mission on any other ship or used any ship equipment ever in the history of your character.
The limiting factor is 100% realtime, plus your willingness to buy ISK rather than earn it, and your social connections to get access to hulls and modules not regularly sold on the markets. Zero impact from your actual in-game activities.
In Pathfinder Online, you gain XP in realtime which goes into a bank. You can log in and find a skill trainer to exchange banked XP for skills. You could, if you wished, pay for a monthly subscription for a long period of time and never log in, then, when you decide you are ready, log in and start buying training.
You will discover however that even though you might have a huge amount of XP banked, you cannot buy all the training you want. After the first couple of ranks of a particular Feat are trained, you start to run into prerequisites.
Some of those prerequisites are ability score increases, which also come from purchasing training. But you will find that you can't purchase enough of those kinds of Feats without running into other prerequisites. Those are related to earning Achievements.
Achievements reflect things that your character has actually done in game. Some of them are easy to get - a couple of hours of generic adventuring will provide quite a few of them. So you do that, then you go back to the trainers and you can spend more of your XP and get some more Feats. You repeat that cycle, but you start to notice that the time required to get the next set of Achievements you need to unlock the next round of Feats to train are becoming increasingly time consuming to earn.
Eventually you reach a point where the time required to get the next batch of Achievements has become pretty substantial. You've reached the point in the game where you are gated more by what you are able to do while you play than by how much XP your character is earning.
So if you paid for a long period of subscription time, and gained a huge bank of XP, you would not be able to replicate the experience of the pilot in EVE - you can't just train your character and never interact with the world.
The character who starts playing on day one and actually plays the game - going out into the world and doing things related to the kind of abilities that the player wants that character to have - will have a substantial advantage over the character who is created on day one but that is never used and is just a reservoir holding XP.
(This is one big reason I say that Destiny's Twin is cool, but it's not as good as a "second character". Because you have to choose to either do things to earn Achievements with the Main, or with the Twin, but you can't do both at the same time. So you'll have to decide how you want to allocate your game time "doing things in the game" and you can't treat the Twin as just a convenient alter-ego of your Main.)
Why this is good design
The realtime training system pioneered by EVE solves a number of design problems. The biggest problem that it solves is that it allows us to control, absolutely, how quickly a character can unlock certain character abilities. In games where your character gets better simply as a function of your play, things like DPS and XPS are proxies for realtime training. But they're not great proxies because so many different people play the game at different rates and you are forced to make design choices between optimizing for the people at the very top of the power curve who are playing an absolutely min/maxed character in a mathematically optimal way, or for the 99% of the rest of the players who are doing something less "perfect" from a gaming perspective - starting at slightly less perfect and going down to "barely doing anything right".
The MMO community has shown time and again that it is capable of finding ways to level up characters faster than the designers "thought they could". The result is that game systems which were deployed in a half-finished state get pounded by rapidly advancing characters and the blowback is that the content is boring and grindy. (Or worse, doesn't exist at all, and characters run out of things to do and players therefore exit the game).
With realtime training we, the designers, control when you will be gated in to various content and nothing you, the players, can do can speed that process up. So you can be as efficient as you want, min/max to your hearts' content, play 24 hours a day without any sleep, and you won't be able to get ahead of our plan to deploy content.
We can then tune other parts of the design to be more interesting to the vast middle majority of the players rather than having to tune to the most efficient players. The Achievement system allows us to provide you interesting things to do but we don't have to ask you to do them 24x7x365. So if you don't play that aggressively you will find that in general you're able to "keep up" with those who do (there's an economic risk because those 24x7 players will generate more economic activity than the people who don't but we think we can manage that on the backend.)
Ideascale is a test of a system. The test seems to be going well.
There's a difference between something that we will put into the game no matter what, and something that has to be prioritized and balanced against other functions and features. We have a list of stuff we are going to put into the MVP and when someone suggests one of those things I tell them in the comments and close the idea.
There are lots and lots of ideas that people have suggested which are a part of our plan but which we have not prioritized or thought about the various tradeoffs that will be required and those have been left alone.
Ok, there are now a bunch of ideas that have been flagged for moderation.
One is "Simple and Advanced Contract Mechanic Options", submitted by "Community Member". I assume that's some kind of placeholder for an account that has not been configured with a public name.
That idea has had the following transaction history:
Events [ 6 ] [-]
Ideascale does not allow me to see who took these actions, although I'm pretty sure the status change 16 hours ago was me responding to the PM that kicked off this investigation.
I have altered the Ideascale defaults. It now requires more than 1 report of an idea as abusive, and more than 1 report of an idea as a duplicate to shift the idea into moderation. We'll see if that helps.
We need to investigate. When an item is flagged as a duplicate, I get an email. I review the idea and the duplicate suggestions from Ideascale and if I judge there are close enough matches I merge the ideas. There have not been more than three or four a week after an initial surge of duplicates when we opened the tool. However yesterday after I was asked to investigate, I found 20+ ideas that had been set to a status other than "Active". I do not think I received email about duplicates regarding those ideas but I have not verified that yet.
Prior to investigating further I have some speculations:
The system may be reacting to people submitting a large volume of ideas in a short period of time
The system may be reacting to submissions of ideas by people who have previously submitted ideas with lots of negative votes
The system may be detecting what it thinks are sock puppets
The system may be flagging what it thnks are known problematic users or users from various blacklists and anti-fraud services, etc.
The problem may be people gaming the system to kill ideas they don't like
I will look into this today and see if I can determine what is happening and why.
I would suggest that if you have a character that loses XP or items when you log out and back in, you should delete that character and start a new one. There may be some cruft in the system that won't get fixed on older characters.
If a particular guard hates you (because you attacked him) ... they never forgive or forget. So if you're in that condition, you probably want to make a new character. If they just are generally mad at you because you've attacked other characters, your Rep will regenerate as long as you're logged in.