[Rift] Defeating the Defeatist

Jaradcel writes up another in-depth guest post on Rift PvP. Enjoy! –Ravious

Lately with the amount of PvP I have been doing, it feels like my brain is beginning to bleed “learn2play” attitudes. I have caught myself replying to obvious troll bait yells or even doing so myself.

Upon consideration, I feel like one of the root causes of this, which is far less prevalent in a PvE aspect, is because of the way developers tend to design for PvP. There are several reasons, but to start the ball rolling: Developers tend to cater to the defeatist.

Continue reading [Rift] Defeating the Defeatist

Engi Census

Playing the Steam free game of the weekend, I have come to wonder: how many games have an Engineer that builds a turret; how many games have an Engineer that does not build a turret; and how many games have a non-Engineer that builds a turret. (I think I will avoid counting Warhammer Online’s Magus and units/classes that “summon” rather than “build.” I’m unclear whether the Raven builds, summons, or do we count “deploy”?) Was there some first game that set the standard that Engineer = build a sentry gun? It feels like engineers and self-directed turrets have become a standard game item, but perhaps exploring some examples will reverse this. I keep finding near-hits, where perhaps they consciously avoided calling the turret-builder an Engineer in recent games. I wonder if non-builder Engineers are also intentional aversions? Inventory below the break, please contribute in the comments.

Edit: let’s see what happens if we add in enemies that do the same, some of which may mirror heroes. Continue reading Engi Census

Referral Benefits

Word of mouth is nice, but bribing your customers to bring their friends is a stronger way to improve your network effects. Your customers like it too — free stuff for them and it can make it easier to get more of their friends into the new game. Of course, nothing is truly free, and it must be paid for somewhere, but the customer sees no incremental cost, and on the developer side, you can get people recruiting by offering surprisingly little. Just look at all those games on Facebook that offer you 50 imaginary bananas for inviting your friends to help you farm! Friends recruited me to two games over the holidays, so I am pondering their referral benefits. Both are free to play with paid components. When do you offer people stuff and what do you offer them?

Blatant shilling, my referral link: League of Legends. League of Legends counts referrals at level 5, no money paid. Level 5 is basically free in your first night or two of play; the XP curve is reduced so that it costs more to get from 5 to 6 than from 1 to 5, so if you are not level 5, you have not really tried the game. (Of course, if you have played DotA, you have already played League of Legends (I think LoL is too cleaned-up to ever go back to DotA, which is another post), so you may have tried it that way.) It is a minimal hurdle to keep people from mass-referring themselves for benefits. What do they offer referrers? You get a boost to earning in-game currency, the value of which I estimate around $1 (lots of fuzziness there), and then tiered benefits for inviting more friends. My friends seemed rather impressed by them, but personally I found them most decorative except for the 10-referral free champion ($5-$10 value?). At 100, you get the box that costs $20 in stores; at 200, you get $76 of their real money currency; and everything else is decorative titles and skins until you get to 4 digits. You can look, the rewards in 4+ digits are very fancy, and I promise to ask for “Zubon’s Trousers” if I somehow get to 1,000, but I imagine few people will claim those unless popular website operators link their many readers … which would be really great advertising for the game, if someone with a million-reader site got 1% of his/her readers to try it. So my friends have become motivated to recruit based on a free champion and a $1 (in-game currency) referral fee. Pretty efficient on the developer side, and the players seem happy with it.

Global Agenda (think Borderlands with better match-making, less silly, and less run-down; again, another post) counts referrals once your friend spends money (Guild Wars model, no subscription fee). They have the wisdom to make referrals in-game achievements, so if you want to check off those boxes, recruit your friends. They are less aspirational, offering benefits up to 50 recruits, with special hats for the first 5 then pets at 20 and 50. Again, my friends tell me the pets are nice, but what do I know as a newb? If there is a referral link, I do not know how to find it, but Global Agenda instead gives coupon codes for friends (half -off the box cost). (Shilling: if you want one of my 10, GACOU438265797100 through …104 and GACOU438265776370 through …374.) Do you get new ones, with only 10 codes to create a false sense of scarcity? Global Agenda offers more to people being referred (real cash discount versus nothing) but less to people making referrals (fewer and smaller benefits), and the referral system is less intuitive (“sign up and enter this code while buying” versus “click this link”). I do not think it is working as well for them; with two friends encouraging me to join them for occasional play, neither bothered to send a code.

At the moment, I do not have many thoughts beyond which seems more productive (give to referrers, not to the referred). You already know many other plans, from WoW’s zebras and triple-XP to the CoX free half-month per referral (for both, a large benefit I see less chatter about). Consider these data points for future ponderings. Impressions of the games forthcoming, and if you want to find me in either, I am Zubon as usual.

: Zubon


Are we past the point of clicking on bodies? Just put the loot in my inventory. Give me some sort of message, great, but most games do not benefit from the extra step of having me click on a body, bag, etc. Experience goes directly on to my character, cash sometimes goes directly onto my character; just put the loot in my inventory.

City of Heroes does this. Global Agenda does this. Team Fortress 2 does this. Rift does this with rift loot. LotRO skirmishes are half-way there with most rewards appearing in your barter wallet as a quest reward mechanic.

The downside is the question of limited inventory space. What do we do when inventory is full? When we click on bodies, the loot is just there, waiting for us to open some inventory slots. Do we just miss out on loot if we are full? My immediate notions would be:

  • Yes, so watch for the big red FULL alert and the continued red text on your screen.
  • Stop limiting inventory space. That might be a really bad idea in a game with lots of trash loot, which leads to the next step of stop with the trash loot. Alternately, have some sort of genericized system that takes less (server) storage space rather than having dozens of things to remember per item.
  • Have a loot overflow holding area. It would be a buffer that lasts for as long as you are logged on, kind of like buyback at the NPC merchants. As long as you stay online (plus time x, to deal with connection isseus?), your bag is infinitely large, but make sure you decide which items you are keeping/selling before logging off. If your connection is lousy, you will want to check that more often, but then you would have the same issue about corpses de-spawning with your loot still inside, and you would still be checking your inventory just as often with the question, “Which of these am I keeping or trashing?” Be sure to move the epic loot to permanent storage after the boss fight.

Any version would be purely a gameplay abstraction that makes no sense even after the best stories I concocted justifying it in-world, but we already accept inventory mechanics in which 100 metal ingots take up as much space as a ring, bears sometimes carry swords and multiple hides but have only a 50% chance to have one leg or tooth on each corpse, gold bars are worth less than gold coins, and gold coins take up no space. Of course, I usually use ranged attacks. I can already imagine sniping one target in a dangerous group and running, where now I would need to go in if I want the loot from that kill.

: Zubon