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In EVE, it takes a minute or two to travel from one star system to another. That's about the pace I like for Pathfinder Online. And like in EVE, the place you want to go is likely a lot more than one segment away from where you are. If it takes 10-15 minutes of travel on a regular basis, I think that sets a good pace and gives distance meaning without asking people to forgo an afternoon to get somewhere interesting.
I actually really like that idea of being told what factors might have influenced your death. I wonder if that is possible to communicate in some kind of "killmail".
In general, this is what I see happening.
Day One of Early Enrollment, people are going to log in and go looking for fights. It's going to be a pretty bloody, pretty messy free-for all. We are thinking about ways to influence that start, but I think it's inevitable. It's just a natural human thing to want to see how the tech works, and the most interesting combats are going to be with other players, so there is going to be a massive PvP explosion. Pretending otherwise just sets us up for failure and a huge PR debacle.
A few days, maybe weeks into Early Enrollment, the first-day jitters will have calmed down and folks won't be so hasty to drop everything and fight each other "just because". When we reach that point we'll be more able to communicate values to the players even if there's no in-game mechanical effects.
Of course depending on how we add new accounts, and how fast we add new accounts, there's going to have to be a continuous process of re-education as those new players hit the servers and want to "try out" the combat system.
Early Enrollment, because of it's MVP nature, is also going to be a time & place where people want to test a lot of stuff, so they can make suggestions to us and participate in Crowdforging. So I expect all sorts of attacks between players that have a metagame value even if the ingame value is hard to parse. It's very difficult to say that we don't benefit from those actions in the long run.
I'm increasingly worried that the messages coming out of the community don't match what will actually happen in game, and the disconnect between what people hear, and what they experience, will cause blowback. So I'm trying to be blunt when asked this question directly:
"Will I get killed regularly in Pathfinder Online by other players?"
The answer to this question is "yes you will".
American football is not a game about tackling, but tackling happens on almost every play. Pathfinder Online is not a game about killing other players, but your character will be killed by other players regularly.
Pathfinder Online is a game about conflict. One mode of conflict is combat. It will be the primary mode of conflict as Early Enrollment begins. Suggesting otherwise creates a false impression of what the game will be like that will potentially cause a huge problem as we launch.
Our goal, as developers, and our goal, as a community, needs to be to work to make those conflicts meaningful rather than random, and we need to work to identify, and remove, players who only want to inflict meaningless deaths on other players "just for the lulz". But we owe it to ourselves and to the game to be upfront and honest when people ask us if they're going to face character death at the hands of other players. Because they will.
How does transition from hex to hex work? Is it a loading screen each time you cross a hex border? Can you only cross between adjacent hexes at certain points or anywhere on the border (assuming no geographic chokepoints)?
There's no transition. You can't even see the boundaries except for some geographical features that follow them. It's totally seamless.
Do I have to buy two copies of the game AND two subscriptions if I want to play with my wife, or can I buy one copy and two subscriptions?
You will need one copy of the game for each player. However, I should note that currently that costs $35, and includes a month of game time. That purchase will enable you to play when Open Enrollment begins, and that will not be for a couple of years.
Currently, if you want to play in Early Enrollment, which will begin this year, the price is $100, but that package includes 3 months of game time.
I don't need a DVD that I am just going to lose or scratch anyway. I definitely don't need TWO of them.
Barring some future promotional releases, we don't expect to make physical game boxes or discs. You'll download the client directly from us.
If we know that we aren't going to be able to play for a while, can we put our subscription on hold and come back to our characters in, say, two months time when we are back in country? or will our characters disappear?
You can elect to use your game time at any point - you don't have to use it when you purchase. In Early Enrollment, when you do not have game time, you will not be able to log in. Your characters will not be removed from the database, but they will not be gaining XP.
You will be able to buy game time ala carte, or by subscription. We don't plan to enable you to turn on and off your use of game time - so once you activate a month's game time, you will not be able to decide to save the final two weeks for later use. When we sell you multiple months of game time you'll get multiple game time codes in monthly increments - you won't have to use all 3 months of your Early Enrollment time in a row if you don't want to.
Everything I read seems to indicate that PvP is going to happen, and there will be zones where I am likely to be waylaid by some other player. The first time my level 4 self gets murdered by a level 12 jerkwad in this game will be the last time you get any of my money
I understand your concerns. However you should know that you are likely to face this problem soon after you start playing.
Interplayer conflict is at the heart of our game design. Getting killed by another player is going to happen early, and often. For some folks, any time that happens is too much and we respect that.
I hope that if you give the game a chance you'll find that the risks of being attacked by other characters are worth the rewards for taking part in a challenging and meaningful experience. Death in Pathfinder Online is not a catastrophic event, it's just a minor setback. And we're going to work very hard to provide disincentives to behave badly - your character may be attacked and killed, but our long term goal is to make the reasons for that attack meaningful in the larger context of the struggle for control of territory in the game.
How much of this game will be playable by someone with a generally isolationist mindset?
This is the area where I think there's the largest challenge for you. The first "M" in MMO is "Massively", and the second "M" is "Multiplayer".
This is not a single-player game where you occasionally interact with another person. This is a game where meaningful interaction is the heart of the game design. You won't be able to do much that is meaningful or interesting by yourself. You'll have to find friends in-game and work as a team to achieve success - just like the tabletop experience.
Before it acquired White Wolf, it was an MMO company that was planning its second big project. That project turned out to be World of Darkness. Now it is not an MMO company planning its second big project - it's a company that spent tens of millions of dollars on a failed MMO venture and is going to be limited to one MMO for the indeterminate future.
To put that difference in context, the company was worth about $200 million when it had one game and was going to make a second, because that implied it could make a third, and keep on growing forever. If it had made World of Darkness, and if that game had succeeded, CCP would have been worth at least a billion dollars.
Since the strike price of the options it grants to employees are public information, and those prices have not changed since 2007, and those prices are legally required to track Management's best estimate of company value, CCP is still worth $200 million.
Not shipping World of Darkness is an $800 million mistake.
There were a lot more than 58 people working on World of Darkness. There have been about 65ish people working on World of Darkness since the last round of layoffs, which took them down from about 80, and that was a decline from the previous round of layoffs when they had more than 100. Some of the World of Darkness team has been retained, but they're no longer working on World of Darkness. They're going to work on something else, new, once CCP figures out what they want that to be.
World of Darkness failed because CCP did not have the discipline to sacrifice all its other good ideas for the sake of concentrating on the best good idea. Like most failures of its type, it happened because the leadership of the company just couldn't say "no". Saying no is hard. Saying no means you have amped up risk. Saying no means that people you like may leave, or feel bad and stay (which is sometimes worse). It means you pay opportunity costs if you should have backed A instead of B. It means you are smaller, less complicated. It means you have to fundamentally confront the idea that you are not strong enough, smart enough, committed enough to do everything - that some things are beyond your grasp. It failed because not enough people in senior leadership woke up every morning and knew that making it succeed was the most important part of their jobs, period. Full stop.
CCP is now the EVE company, at least for the immediate future. Unless you'd been there when that was considered a total failure condition, it's hard to express how painful that position must feel to the insiders.
Pax East Panels ft. Ryan Dancey: The Future of Online Games & What Is Happening to Tabletop Roleplaying Games?
The current design for Early Enrollment is that the more work the characters do against the escalation, the tougher it becomes until it completes and ends.
Later in Early Enrollment the plan is that escalations if not addressed will change in ways other than the way they change if the characters are making progress toward completion. Objectively, conditions in the hex should become increasingly painful.
After we achieve that platform, we can Crowdforge more of the fractal space within this design space.
We are actively discouraging players from trying to anticipate how future roles will be implemented. There is a virtual certainty that whatever plans we have now will change, and thus whatever speculation people make about those plans based on the info we can give you now about the first roles will likely be rapidly obsolete.
There are parts of the graphic package already deployed in Pathfinder Online that I think are very cutting edge and excellent. The way the light interacts with the clothing the characters wear, for example, is excellent.
The gear itself is not just a texture map on top of a fixed model either. The gear is it's own object and different types of gear will look physically different as opposed to just being a flat texture painted on a static shape.
That's really subtle stuff though and you have to be zoomed in quite close to really be able to see it.
We have more than adequate shadows and lighting, certainly as good as you'll find in most current-gen MMOs. It may not be Unreal on max-settings level quality, but that's a market we're not trying to cater to anyway.
The animations need work. Right now we're replacing the animation system in Unity with a 3rd party tool. Once that is done I think they'll all look much better. The actual animation data itself is much better than what the current client renders. The difference between what it looks like in the tool the animator uses to make it, and what it looks like in-game is big. That's why we're investing in a replacement. Even so we have a limited animation budget. We have to do an animation for every race, in two genders, so the matrix of animations that need to be produced is massive. This stuff isn't done via mocap or kinesthetics. It's an artist who moves the rig of the model "just so" to get the effects we want. The amount of time required for animations means we will start with a limited selection and add more over time, but the pace we can add more is dictated to some extent by how much money we are able to raise above our current budget baseline. At some point, after a few other high-priority issues are addressed, we could consider adding more staff to increase our animation output. But there will still be people who are used to seeing the results of a dozen-person animation staff, and they're unlikely to get that in Pathfinder Online.
Some other aspects of the game are more subject to improvement within our existing time & budget constraints. We have the environment dialed back quite a bit right now because we have not done much optimization work either on the objects themselves or on how the client renders them. As we get more performance out of the game we can think about increasing the density of the environment too. A lot of that has to happen as a series of iterations once we have a more-complete client and have had time to work on reducing and simplifying the graphic assets without losing the aesthetic quality we're looking to achieve.
That's a very long winded way of saying that we are going to be coping with "this game's graphic sux, so the game must sux too" for a long while.
I am going to be at the Game Developers Conference this week and won't be in the office on Wednesday. With the new website being a real manageable system rather than a collection of static HTML that Paizo has to edit by hand, I am responsible for posting blogs.
So I did the blog this weekend and it is scheduled to automatically appear at noon on Wednesday.
If you happened to find the video, please keep it private until then.
You could bank a lot of XP. But that doesn't do what you think it does.
Improving character abilities comes from a combination of buying skills with XP, and reaching in-game achievements. Some of those achievements may (almost certainly will) have skill prerequisites.
So you could bank a year's XP, waiting for the support for Role X to be implemented. But once that implementation is in the game, you can't just buy up all the role features. You have to buy the skills with your banked XP, then go out into the world and accomplish mighty deeds. Your progression will be faster, assuming you're willing to play a lot of hours, compared to someone who didn't bank XP and starts down the same Role at the same time you do, but it won't be a matter of hours. It should take a quite a long time to match a year of XP to the equivalent amount of in-game achievements.
You also have to find a Settlement that has the structures to support your Role.
And you may have to wait until the harvester/processor/crafters have figured out how to make gear with keywords useful for your Role too.
The only advantage to waiting for a role to be added is that you may have the idea of a "pure" build for Roleplaying reasons that you don't want to sully. Otherwise you sacrifice nothing by playing as soon as you can, and just starting down the path you want to play when it is added to the game with an older, more experienced character that already does other things.
@Forencith - but your desire won't actually result in the thing you wish to see happening actually happening. People will not move around the game world with risky liquid assets. It's been shown time and time and time again that the players will just innovate around that limitation, resulting in an opaque system that makes it harder for new players to understand how to play the game "correctly".
The Thread system is a hard compromise. In a perfect world we would not need it. But the overwhelming resistance to the effects of looting in PvP require us to put a bandage on the problem or simply lose the ability to communicate about the game to a wide swathe of people we want to engage. The in-game downsides are judged worth the out-of-game upsides.
This does not seem to be a problem with coins(*).
Your concern is really "why will anyone ever make a caravan when they could transport goods without risk if they thread the goods".
The answer is that the number of items the economy will need to consume should be so high that it will be prohibitive to try and transport all the inventory threaded.
I've said before that I suspect one consequence of the threading system is that there will be two economies in the game - the threaded and unthreaded economies. Ironically, weapons and armor, the two things that most people think will be cool to craft will also be the two things for which the least amount of crafting must be done, because they'll be lost at a much lower rate. Trust me when I say that concerns me greatly, but it is what it is.
You can't thread everything. You can't thread consumables and the combat system assumes that you're using consumables all the time to get maximum advantage. That's a partial admission that we know that the threaded economy would otherwise make it possible to avoid the impacts of the risk of losses, and again, it is what it is.
(*) Realistically we couldn't stop this problem from occurring even if we made coins lootable and have bulk. What would happen instead is that the players would evolve a substitute. The players would find the highest-value, lowest bulk, (likely threadable) items and use them as ersatz currency. In other words, before leaving on a risky journey, they'd convert Coin to Diamond Encrusted Vorpal Ghosttouch Humanbane Daggers [or whatever], thread the daggers, and then leave town. On arrival at their destination, they'd sell the daggers (which would have a price that would rapidly converge on a fixed price throughout the whole game due to the utility of this system) and convert them back into Coin.
The net effect would be an unnecessary complication to the game that would be opaque to some number of players but wouldn't really do the thing you think it would do which is put a bunch of coin out there to be robbed on the highway.
I should note that this is how banks evolved in the real world. It's much safer to transmit a piece of paper that says 'By the authority of Simon, pay Bob 100 gold pieces on receipt of this letter", which is no good to anyone but Bob, and can be replaced by Simon if it is stolen. After a point, nobody left home with bags of specie.
The plan right now is that each "role" (class) has a Key Object. Bound to the Key Object are various character abilities that map to the class features of the tabletop classes. You can have two Key Objects equipped, and you can switch between them instantly. So a multi-class Pathfinder Online character is one that has the Key Object for two different roles equipped.
However, that means that you've made a significant tradeoff. While having the Key Object for a role in one set of slots gives you access to that role's feature set, you might want to put something other than a Key Object in the other set of slots. Like a ranged weapon, or a harvesting tool, or a different version of the Key Object for the same role (Maybe you want a sword that has keywords useful against undead in one set of slots, and a sword that has keywords useful against oozes in the other, for example).
The ability to mix & match these Key Objects is how we approximate multiclassing. We can blur those distinctions even further if we make Key Objects that class role boundaries - a Key Object useful to both a Cleric and a Rogue, for example, that isn't as focused as one built for just one role, but creates interesting synergies that might make the item worth using for some characters.
Then you consider the wide range of things like armor, magical items in the ring, head, cloak, boot, and belt slots, and how those objects affect your character and potential provide additional slottable abilities, and you get rapidly into a fractal space where characters can be highly divergent.
What we're not going to try to do is create well-defined role templates out of those combos. Players may do so on their own initiative, but we're not going to be held to them - what you do in terms of how you build out your character is your own choice, it's not a blueprint endorsed by us.
@Quandry - I will say we're explicitly not going to try and make future development backwards compatible with how people have approximated various classes from the tabletop game.
We just cannot make that kind of commitment. If we open that door, every time we add a new feature that doesn't exactly match people's expectations on how something would or should work, we'll face a tsunami of people wanting respecs, XP refunds, and monetary refunds. It always ends up with bad feelings all around.
If you want to play a class of some kind and that role is not implemented in the game, you should either wait to make that character, or expect that when the role is added (if it is ever added) it will likely not work like you imagined it would. That way you won't have to confront the difference between your expectations and the reality.
Frankly, I think it is likely that crowdforging will move us away from implementing roles outside the core book. We could add generalized features and abilities that many characters could potentially use, or we could make something very specialized that only a few would use. The burden will be on the community to convince a lot of other people to support their niche at the expense of stuff more broadly useable, and that will be a tough pitch.
OK everyone it's time to get green and crazy!
The Goblin Squad Store is now on-line.
This is a soft launch. We need to run it for a few days without it getting hammered by the load of millions of hardcore MMO fans descending en masse to throw money at us. Well, OK, that would be awesome, but .... this is very new code. It still has that "new code" smell! And the odds are that we'll find something about the store that needs fixin'.
So go ahead and let your friends know its ready to use, but please don't submit articles to the gaming press websites about it yet. We'll handle that ourselves when the store has had a little bit of real-world use.
If you have questions about the store or how it works, please ask them in this thread so I can keep all the responses coordinated.
Now let's get some more Goblins!
You are 100% right about the impact of Ultima Online. In fact you can draw a straight arrow from UO to EverQuest to World of Warcraft that relates to the ability of characters to engage in meaningful interaction, and that arrow was set in motion by what happened in UO.
UO was accidentally cursed by a design choice that didn't seem as impactful as it turned out to be. That design choice was to allow a very "Free form" approach to in-game behavior by the players. The UO devs thought that what would happen would be interesting social behavior. But what actually happened was sociopathy.
The hole UO dug was so deep that the entire industry with the exception of CCP (who was founded by guys who loved playing UO) ran screaming in the opposite direction swearing that they would never make THAT mistake again.
That was the original sin that tied PvP to griefing and harassment in the minds of many players who came afterward. People who have never even seen UO have opinions about PvP and griefing based on what they've been told it is like.
TBH, I'm not really that worried about the "combat lobby" concerns. Long term, the game either establishes that PvP can be implemented without becoming degenerate, or it can't. No amount of hand waving by us at this point is going to convince anyone otherwise.
The objective is really to kill the nay-saying about the graphics and animation. That's a deadly strain of PR that we can't allow to take root. It's inherent in the MVP concept that we aren't going to go all-out on graphic quality and some people will equate graphic quality with game quality unless that point is addressed.
What I hope people take away from this article is that there's more to the game than PvP (which was what Jef implied with his original article) and that we're committed to iterating on all game systems over time - the product on release to Early Enrollment is not "Finished" by any stretch of the imagination.