Undermining systems for the sake of convenience

In short, the development of NW has been going more and more towards the hyper-convenience that people (who are probably more at home in MOBAs and such) have come to expect from modern MMOs, and the result is undermining many of the mechanics of the game. This looks like it’s going to continue with the PTR patch notes, so I thought I’d bring it up for discussion.

Conveniences Added

These are the changes that I think make the game more convenient but also trivialize a lot of mechanics.

Already done

  • Combining all markets
  • Reducing the azoth cost of travel (as well as the distance, weight, and territory control impacts on travel cost)

Planned

  • Allowing sign-ups for invasions and wars directly from the map
  • Allowing direct storage transfers from any territory at no cost, regardless of territory control
  • Doubling storage sizes

And now I’ll go over the systems that are undermined by these changes.

Territory Control

It was already a struggle to understand why I should care if my faction controls a territory. I mean, my faction lost First Light the other day and the taxes suddenly went down, which was actually good for me because I have a house there. There are of course the global bonuses your faction gets from territories, but good luck finding those anywhere in game so that you actually know you’re getting them. I’m sure new players have no idea that these things even exist. There’s also the fact that you can directly transfer between storages between territories controlled by your own faction, but again, good luck figuring out that that’s even possible as the game gives you no indication at all that you can do this.

Out of these already weak incentives to help your faction gain and hold territories, you’re now removing the storage benefit. In fact, making fast travel basically free has already done that. Yesterday, I jumped all over the map moving items around and ended up with almost capped azoth and 14 extra viles just sitting there. It was no problem at all to use the territory with the cheapest refinement, fabrication, and trading taxes to use for each activity I wanted to do. I had no reason whatsoever to choose a higher taxed territory for the sake of convenience or anything like that because I could easily move any items for free. Removing the storage benefit of territory control is just taking this one step further since now we won’t even have to wait for a loading screen to do the same.

An obvious impact of territory control not being incentivized well is that there’s little reason for people to partake in open world PvP and wars. Why bother? Neither activity have any meaning associated with them after these changes.

Owning a House

Likewise, there’s much less reason to own a house with these changes. The only thing you actually get from owning a house now is trophies. I don’t need a house for storage since I can just use the storage of every other territory. Hell, I don’t even need a house for travel since it’s practically free to travel anywhere at any time. In my example above, even when I fast traveled to a settlement where I have a house, I used the regular fast travel because I wanted to save the house fast travel for in case I’m in the wild somewhere away from a shrine.

Race to the Bottom Pricing

Related to the ease of jumping from territory to territory for crafting and selling is that all the safeguards against prices dropping have been removed. In my example above, I never had any reason to use a territory with a higher tax for something as it was just as easy to hop over to another territory. Once people start figuring this out, territory taxes will all just drop to the floor. That’s good for the end users, but some of that revenue goes to paying for wars and settlement upgrades.

An older change that does the same thing was combining all the markets. Without the markets being combined, people would sometimes just pay a higher price for the convenience of not having to travel to another market. However, now sellers are directly competing with everyone everywhere. On my server, as a potion crafter, the lowest I can get my overhead on infused health potions without just gathering the materials myself is more than I could ever hope to sell the potions for. It’s literally impossible to profit from selling health potions, which is bad for supporting the crafting game. Even if I gathered the materials, why would I craft them into potions instead of just selling the materials themselves? I would get more money from not taking the extra step of making the potions but rather by just selling the materials, which is bonkers.

Immersion

I know this is a hot button topic and that many people will claim to not care at all, but honestly, without immersion, we might as well be sitting in a chatroom lobby waiting for activities to pop instead of roaming in a virtual world. That’s what every other modern MMO feels like to me, and that’s where NW seems to be moving now, too.

The changes to combined markets, reduced travel costs, and combined storage already discussed mean that it doesn’t really matter where you are in the world. Being in one territory is just as good as being in the next. I mean, it’s already rare to see other players roaming through any territory other than Shattered and Reekwater, and these changes will cement them as empty wastelands.

This is where being able to sign up for wars and invasions directly from the map hurts. Again, why bother with a virtual world if you don’t actually have to do anything in it but can instead just select something from a menu wherever you are?

Summary

I didn’t follow NW during development because I assumed an MMO made by Amazon would be just the same kind of themepark, chatroom lobby experience that every other MMO offers. When it seemed like a lot of old school designs were being used, like there was an actual interest in designing a world that feels immersive and meaningful, I got really interested and started playing at launch. It’s been a lot of fun for me, but it’s moving further and further away from what I wanted and becoming more and more like what I can already get from literally every other MMO on the market. I’m probably in the minority, but I imagine we’re a minority that’s quite a bit more loyal to the MMOs that work for us since they’re so rare, so, AGS, it’s probably important to decide whether you want to keep chasing after the players who want hyper-convenience by competing with the WoWs of the world, or if you want to just make the game you seemed to want to make before you started going that way and be happy with the loyal minority of players who’ve been waiting ages for that sort of thing.

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Fantastic post. Basically summarized precisely how I feel about the recent direction of the game. If I could have my way there would be no portals and the dev focus would be on making different zones relevant for different reasons.

I don’t think we’ll ever have a non-global TP back but perhaps AGS can be convinced that there’s value in not being just another cookie-cutter theme-park mmo. They already exist, and they have a lot more rides.

I struggle to say anything on the matter that OP didn’t already say better than I could.

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I do not agree with your positions, and i do not agree with the reason you are aruging them.

First, the point you brought up are all quality of life improvements and are good for the overall health of the game.

Second, you are making these arguments because you are living in this dream that we design and develop games to cater to you, the hardcore complex driven pvper with your dreams of having a pure pvp game, and that is nothing more business suicide; To this point, you are living in a dream world and it is not in the interest of any business ot make their flag ship game hardstuck at 100-200k concurrent players.

Ags is making good choices with the recent changes. They have my support.

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Like I said, I’m expect that I’m in the minority. However, these changes are most certainly not just “quality of life”. If that were the case, they wouldn’t fundamentally change the incentives for different activities, as I outlined in my post. Quality of life is like when they added the pop-up message that asks for confirmation if you try to sell something that you’ll lose money on. These changes that I’ve mentioned are not that. They fundamentally change the way the game is played and the incentive systems for activities. If that’s just “quality of life”, then there is no change that’s not quality of life in any game.

Things can fundamental change game systems and incentives and still be quality of life.

The gold printing press that territorial ownership brings should be incentive enough. After all the players who enjoy those aspects of the game claim to enjoy pvp. Locking qol behind pvp makes no sense. In the same way forcing pvpers to pve for item progression made no sense. Literally everyone has been asking for linked or better yet one universal storage and more storage since launch.

Most people would pay cash to achieve these qol changes thats a good metric that there is something wrong with how it is.

It’s not unless you’re in the company that’s taking control. I’m in a small company that will never govern a settlement, so my only incentive is if there’s something in it for my whole faction when a company from my faction controls territory, but there’s very little incentive there and what incentive does exist is slowly being taken away. Not to mention, companies that control territory often need help from other companies to keep said territory. Why would another company help if it doesn’t actually benefit them in any way?

We’re simply not going to agree on whether this is QoL or not, but it absolutely does make sense to intertwine both PvP and PvE, and that’s literally in the explicit vision that AGS claims to have for the game:

“Our vision for New World is to have PvP and PvE gameplay not only coexist, but complement each other so players can bounce back and forth between focusing on PvP and PvE.”

The reason it makes sense is because an MMO is not supposed to be a series of mini-games that exist in vacuums completely separated from each other. The game is the whole game, not just one aspect of it. You don’t have to be hardcore into PvP or hardcore into PvE, and that’s fine, but you shouldn’t get annoyed when one side or the other has an impact on the activities you’re partaking in when you’ve signed up to play. If you wanted to never have to touch PvP and never have it impact the part of the game you enjoy most at all, then you need to play a game that’s simply not a PvP game. It would be like going to a baseball game for the hot dogs and getting mad that there’s too much noise and insisting that hot dogs should not be locked behind the noise of a baseball game…

Yes, Yes they are.

Explain how that fits into systems like storage being universally accessible. I will walk with you through your thinking and we can talk about it.

No, QoL improvements are a great many things. They can be fixes to weapon swapping for example, but are often things that make convience in a game better for people. Storage system changes are a perfect example of that.

This is not accurate. You are applying the idea of qol generally do not effect the over all design of a game, things like storage changes which have very minimal impact on gameplay (but some). For example in this case all that you are removing is uneeded use of time to travel.

Your approach at game design is wrong

I want to talk to you about what you think a game should be. That idea or concept fundamentally is not what is being designed here. I want you to come to the hard realization of this, and i suspect if you really learn to accept that you will quickly leave the game and uninstall.

You are advocating for a game that really cannot exist in any massively successful way. A game which in the very early stages of conceptual design would of already had limited signficantly by the success of this game, and its longevity.

I will take the time to explain to you why your position is wrong, since i have over two decades of design experience in the mmo industry. I have created principles which at some point i will write a book about to explain this situation in depth but taking from some of the key points let me explain:

  • Condition 1: System requirements (how strong your computer is and what it can run)

  • Condition 2: Complexity (how ambiguious a game is)

  • Condition 3: Cooperative and Competitive Content

  • Condition 4: Expressive Content

  • Condition 1, 2 dictate the max potential population a game can have. The higher the complexity and system requirements, the lower the max potential population of a game.

  • Condition 3 and 4 dictates the retention rates of a game and how long people stay in and how likely they are to return to the game after leaving it.

These values ultimately from the start of design impact how a game will success or fail.

On another level we have the application of the use of content that is layered on top of this foundation. Players by default largely are made up of pve focused gameplay, and of that their primary activity is dungeons or the higher levels of them (mutations, mythics, etc). A group of these individuals like to focus on raid content, which ultimately is the same concept with more people.

Of the player break down somewhere between 82-85 % Of an mmo is made up of people who’s primary activity is the above (pve-dungeons). From the max population of a game, around ~48% of the game does not do any form of pvp. This means close to half of the population of a game will not even do it.

Of the total population, around ~40% of the population will engage in pvp, of that 15-18% of the population is made up of individuals that are pvp focused individuals (meaning all they do is pvp). The remaining population, around 6% (female) and 5% (male) will not generally engage in group related content, including dungeons and pvp.

What does it all mean, basil?
Explaining these metrics helps explain why your position is really wrong and not a good way of dealing with game design.

Your idea of unconsentual pvp (pvp on all the time), force people to flag and die, add lots of complexity will not only drive the potential population into the ground from tens of millions to a cap of say 150k concurrent, but it will also drive away half of that max potential population of 150k players to around 75k concurrent. We have seen these concepts reproduced in many games we can call to bare (eve being an example of such intentionally design systems).

From the perspective of ags, it is not in the benefit of the studio’s history to laugh its flagship game at the cap of 150k players (or less). What you are advocating would be suicide for not only the game, but also the studio’s reputation and future.

You will need to come to terms with this and accept that the industry generally has designers like myself who are aware of these issues and will very unlikely design games in such ways.

PS
There is hope btw, for individuals like you and unconsentual pvp. It can be found in a criminal system like that being designed by the ashes of creation team, but i have seen these systems a few times over the past few decades and they never work out well. Its definitely the right road, but the question is if they take the right path on the fork down that road to end up in the desired outcome that will truely let us know if that path is worth walking.

Until they you are stuck with people like use who are more inclined to design a game with higher amounts of population which in turn provide more money, more success and a longer and healthier lifespan for the game.

Companies do not create gold, they act as a form of control on economic viscosity. They may if they understand this concept significantly influence it depending on the game, but its unlikely that they will have that much impact (though in theory its possible).

Sure, and I’m John Carmack.

Your whole response is basically just “there are more people who like PvE so you need to make a PvE game to get more people,” which doesn’t contradict my original post in any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, that has nothing to do with whether the conveniences I pointed out are undermining the incentive systems to partake in various activities as well as undermining the overall immersion of the game. You can have a full on 100% PvE game that has to deal with the same issues I’ve brought up.

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