February 25, 2010 7 Comments
As you should know, yesterday was the introduction of patch 1.3.4 and the new scenario reward system. I got to play it for a few hours last night, and for my play-style, I was pleased. So, I’m going to regale you with my impressions and experiences of the evening. Your rapt attention is required, so lean in real close to your monitor, and get a good read. However, before I go any further, I want to make something very clear. The names of the currency, because everyone I speak to seems to have a hard time getting it straight.
The rewards in the scenario system are EMBLEMS and INSIGNIA. Emblems are what you get in each of the four tiers for the scenarios associated with them. Insignia are the currency you get in tier four for the higher renown rank weapons. Emblems are essentially the corollary to medallions, and insignia are that to crests from the armor currency system. The two systems share the base icon of differentiation between the tiers. Conqueror insignia have the same design as crests, as do invader, and so on. The emblems and medallions are identified by a roman numeral that indicate their tier.
Now that we have the terminology down, lets get to business.
Last night was an interesting time to play in scenarios. My guild had a group plus some, and eventually, two full groups on to do scenarios. During the time I played, we never got a double premade going, but we still had a riot of a time. Scenario pops were steady, but due to the current population imbalance, there weren’t back to back. Still, I can’t complain in any way about the rate of them, as it I never got to go more than half way across a map before a scenario was available.
The most intriguing change I noticed in gameplay was an increased focus on completing scenario objectives. Fights had a greater tendency to gravitate towards the flags and capture points, in lieu of spawn points. The desire to earn an increased reward was still going strong by the time I logged off for the night, and the little I played this morning before work. The prices of the weapons have been seen, and they are high, as in, barely different from the PTS high. In no way do I think they will remain at that level, and I can’t imagine them not realizing they are going to be dropping the price soon. If it was me running the show, I’d release the items at high prices while players are swamping scenarios and pulling in currency hand over fist, this would give me an idea of a maximum that players will achieve. Once I have that watermark set in place, I can adjust down from there as things even out. If Mythic is doing otherwise, I would be surprised. That said, if they ARE doing this, they should come out and say that directly. I know there is some frustration amongst the forums and player base about the costs after the Q&As where the topic was raised. To the anxious, I suggest patience. This type of economic balancing is not something that can be done on a test server with sporadic play and limited participation.
In short, the scenarios became more objective driven based on an understanding of increased reward to push closer to the carrot. I don’t think this will last long though. As things currently stand, winning a scenario with 500 points delivers 6 emblems, and one fused insignia. Losing the scenario will welfare you 3 to 5 emblems (depending on score)… and one fused insignia.
That’s correct, a maximum difference of 3 emblems.
This seems like a dramatically paltry small incentive to win. The fused insignia grants me one to three of it’s type when broken down. That’s the same whether I won or lose. There really needs to be a bit more oomph on the reward for winning or a bit more taken out of the loser. The current difference seems slight. When I play in a scenario, I play to win. Always. Not everyone has this motivation though. Many players seek the carrot and new hat. They need the motivational tool to propel them onwards. If the goal is to get players jazzed up about victory, give them a reason to want it, AND to not lose.
Many people have an issue with this. From conversations on the forums, there seems to be a fundamental difference in the understanding of what a reward and punishment is. In one debate I had on the subject of incentivizing scenarios, I pointed out that renown, insignia, or any commodity gained for advancement in the game is a reward. It’s a reward for effort and accomplishment. Not receiving the reward is just that, not being rewarded. Gaining renown, insignia, experience points, gold, or anything is not a right. No one is entitled to it. A punishment is the withholding or removal of an earned commodity. By this simple realization of what the difference is between the two, players who lose are earning advancement through a lack of accomplishment. They are being rewarded for participation.
The system sets a dangerous precedent as I see it. Look to what happened in WoW with their battlegrounds. The reward gap between victory and success was narrowed to the degree where it did not matter. Players in a match would be quick to surrender if it became clear they were not going to win. The investment of the time to achieve victory was not worth the difference in reward. By almost all accounts that I’m aware of, the battlegrounds in WoW are considered a pale comparison of meaningful PvP, and currently exist as a mere means of a tertiary route of gear advancement.
I like the new scenario structure, almost all the ones chosen to remain are those I enjoy. There are some that I miss dearly (Grovod, I really liked), and others I don’t care for (Reikland factory: too big, and too many objectives). However, I have a good time in almost every single one (no more Thunder Valley!), and that is something over which I can rejoice. The reward system needs some tweaking, but I think that Mythic will get it right eventually. The pricing for the crest system was out of whack at first, but no one seems to even give that a second thought in todays game. And lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the further stability improvements that were obviously made. I noticed a smoother, more responsive interface overall, and it made me realize some of the rough edges I’d been rubbing up against.
Good job everyone, and enjoy killing people…in the face.