Saturday, February 6, 2016

So What Changes would I make to SWG Publish 14.1?

For many people this is a sore topic since some of the "mistakes" are things that players have come to love. Other aspects of SWG Publish 14.1 are things that they feel are sacred or mistakes that need to be corrected.

I often talk about Koster's vision for SWG, but I agree with him that if SWG were implemented to his vision it would be a completely different game and possibly a game that never would have developed the following that it did. So when I look to Koster's vision, I only look to see where his vision and what was implemented differ in areas where I feel that the game is broken and has problems. I look to his vision to see if if there is a potential for guidance to solve a specific problem. I do not look to his vision to fix things that I so not see as broken.

So what changes from Publish 14.1 do I feel are needed. (These are not in any order of priority.)

  • Add all of the post Publish 14.1 Armor and Weapon Appearances
  • Add all of the post Publish 14.1 Structures and Harvesters
  • Add all of the post Publish 14.1 Decorative Items
  • Add the Collections System (But keep to the original vision of Milbarge and not the rare drop vision of his boss.)
  • Add the Appearance Tab
  • Adjust Skill point costs for what was intended to be "Support" professions
  • Add new planets
  • Add RotW and ToOW expansion planets and content
  • Add all of the post Publish 14.1 JTL changes and additions
  • Expand the PBS to Space
  • Remove Jedi Visibility and use new criteria for the PBS that allows for all professions to be targets
  • Remove Jedi XP death penalties. At publish 14.1 they were no longer an Alpha profession so these like visibility were long past their need.
  • Adjust Jedi XP earning rates and Jedi XP skill box costs to be in line with other advanced combat professions.
  • Make Crafting Tool and Crafting Station rating affect both assembly and experimentation as intended.
  • Implement CU style armor and weapon smuggler slicing
  • Merge the current Manufacturing City specialization into the Research City specialization.
  • Change Manufacturing City specialization to reduce the per item time of factory runs.
  • Boost all city specialization bonuses by 10%
  • Just as diners have bonuses to crafting add bonuses to crafting for other structures such as the Hospital, Cantina, Hangar and Barn. Add cost savings to operate vendors in Merchant tents.
  • Add Player placed ID tents.
  • Make player cities more useful as hubs by increasing the number of trainers that can be places and lowering their cost along with the cost of mission terminals. Allow shuttles in Rank 3 cities instead of Rank 4.
  • Player cities have a diameter of 1000m no matter what the rank to reduce hostile takeovers.
  • Armor revamp. Adopt the CU system where armor is primarily an appearance and protections come from the cores that go into them. To keep it pre-CU there will be cores that match the encumbrance and protections of each armor type independent of the final appearance assembly. So there would be composite, tantel, padded, bone, chiten, etc cores that would match the current armor protections and encumbrance and composite, thantel. padded, bone chite, etc appearances that can be crafted to those protection/encumbrance/cost benefits.
  • Weapon revamp. Adopt the NGE system where weapons are primarily an appearance and damage, damage type, damage range modifiers and special costs are determined by a core and appearance by the appearance. So a T-21 appearance can be the same as a current T-21 with say a heavy core or look like a T-21 and act like Nyms Slugthrower with a different core.
  • Buff adjustments. Entertainer and Doctor buffs should be the same length. The best solution here is to make Entertainer buffs max out at the same as Doctor buffs. Players and Koster repeatedly point out that doctor buffs trivialize many PvE encounters because the developer did not understand buffs. Adjust Doctor buffs with 80% of cap resources to be the same as Entertainer buffs. Allow loot drop items like Janta Blood to produce better than 100% resource buffs. Add buffs for entertainers to receive, probably in the form of a food, that would allow them to do 25% better buffs than they can today.
  • Incap and death only on Health reaching zero. This was the biggest balancing change that was made. Action and Mind are critical still for performing specials and as such are still strategic to target but are no longer an IWin button.
  • Add assembly and experimentation SEAs for the crafting that currently does not have any.
  • Adjust XP earning rates to be less of a grind but not too fast. Players should be able to earn enough to pay for training new skills and not so fast that they have to wait to earn the money to train.
  • Reduce range needed for survey missions from 1024m to 512m
  • Grant dance and music XP along with increased credits from dancer and musician missions.
  • Enhance camps.
  • New planets
  • New items
  • Make new items permanent schematics instead of loot drops
  • Jedi Innate Armor
  • Resource quality buff from entertainers/buildings
  • Change Lightsaber crafting to use a Lightsaber crafting station instead of the current station.
  • Change Bio-Engineer to use new crafting tools and crafting station instead of the current ones.
  • New playable races
  • New professions
There are more changes that I would want to make and can not think of right now. I know how to make about 75% of these changes.

The key thing here is that not all of these changes would be looked on favorably by everyone.

12 comments:

  1. Hey, Savacc here. A lot of this we have talked about and I have even tested on SWGChoice. One proposal leaped out at me - Resource quality buffs. I hate them. I think they cheapen resource gathering and crafting in general. In the CU and NGE I became adept at using them, because I was forced to. Given any choice I would vote them down.

    Some things we have talked about that didn't make your list: Consider Resource caps and changes to how resources spawn.

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    1. This is a very understandable response to resource quality buffs.

      So let me explain why I feel that they are needed. One of the problems that SOE discovered was a sort of Everquest effect when it came to resources. Those crafters who had played the game longest had an advantage in what they could craft over new players to the game/server. This had a tendency to discourage new players from staying with crafting and if that aspect of the game was what they felt that they would enjoy the most they simply stopped playing.

      Other games did not implement the resource quality aspect of the mini-game. In those games Polysteel Copper is always the same when you get it. It would be very simple to modify the iff file that lists the resource stat range or change the C++ code to always spawn Polysteel Copper with the same stats. This actually could be part of changing how resources spawn.

      However, there are many players who find the hunt for the "Uber" stat resources a very fun aspect of the game. A change to make resource types always spawn with the same stat would solve the Everquest problem but would remove this play style.

      So how do we try to fix this Everquest problem and give new players to the game/server a chance to catch up? This leaves us with Resource Deeds, Resource Quality Buffs and something new.

      For Resource Deeds to be a solution they need to be reasonably easy and inexpensive to get. Those of us that played on the Bloodfin server when they had a glut of these could see the problem with this. The problem was that way too many people switched from finding and harvesting resources to finding and harvesting resource deeds. So making resource deeds common enough to solve the problem also removes the resource mini-game from being played and for those that play it, the mini-game is far less fun since the reward for the effort has been removed.

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    2. So lets go back to resource quality buffs. This is what SOE eventually settled on as the solution to try. They went as high as a 60% buff on the test server before it was released. This very high buff solved the problem but like a fixed stat value or easy to get resource deeds it trivialized the resource mini-game. Since it was coded and announced SOE could not drop it from going live, but in response to this and negative feedback from a minority of the community the value of the buff was trivialized.

      To solve the problem for new crafters, the buff is the best solution and should be something between the 20/40 points given to the stats and the 600 that SOE tested with. The larger the value the easier it is for the new crafter to be able to find and harvest resources that allow them to compete with crafters that have the stockpile of good high stat resources.

      I can imply from your comment and my experience that the buff changed the mini-game a little but retained much of the same importance and satisfaction. The reason why the 60% was bad for the resource mini-game was that almost every resource that spawned could hit the cap. The only aspect of the resource mini-game that was retained was the hunt for high density where you could place harvesters. It did make it easy for both long time players, or players that bought lots of in game credits from third parties, and new players to effectively be using CAPPED resources and the only difference between the two was their understanding of how the choices during experimentation worked.

      The Entertainer and Skill tree version of the resource quality buff was too small to really help the new player. It allowed the long term crafter to hit caps and make better items, but the new crafter was still left out because they still needed to wait for better resources to spawn so that players hit the new norm.

      So it did not solve the problem and to many it simply mean that combat characters and those that buffed could always have the best that crafting had to offer. Some crafters also disliked that while they had the resources for a 99% craft and could outsell those that had the resources for a 98% craft, both could do 100% crafts. Those with 99% resources felt that something was taken away from them. (This is part of the reason why I say a resource quality buff should be there from the beginning.)

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    3. Personally I feel that to resolve the problem 10% is probably the best number to minimize the problem. Although 15% is my gut feeling, I would start with 10% as a proposal without having analyzed the resource stats and other potential changes such as Resource Caps.

      The last potential solution is "something else". I have seen proposals for doing a pilot RE like or a trade in system to get better resources. The problem here is that the long term player still has an advantage over the new player. But because I can not come up with a different solution and have not seen one, it does not mean that I will not listen to proposals.

      So at the current time a Resource Quality buff seems to be the path to go down. The next question is how do players get them.

      There are two ways for this. The first is third party buffs and self buffs. For the self buff there are two easy ways to add them to the pre-NGE game. These are by adding the buff to existing skill tree boxes and self crafted items like structures, jewelry or food. For third party buffs there are entertainer buffs and looted buff items like stims and SEAs.

      Personally I agree with those that feel that interaction with other players should be encouraged but not mandatory. This would give looted buff items like stims and SEAs the advantage. But there is something to be said about doing what SOE originally did and make it an Entertainer buff.

      My current thought would be to make it an Entertainer buff that players would get along with the other entertainer buffs. Since Musicians can buff Focus and Willpower I would add Resource Quality to Dancers so in addition to buffing mind they also buff Resource Quality. This has the advantage that Entertainers, while being more valuable to more players do not have to change anything that they are doing.

      So this is my thoughts on why the buff is needed and how it should be done.

      I am still open to discussion on the subject, but even you seem to admit is that the worst thing it did was change how you applied the results of the resource mini-game. It did not drive you from it.

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    4. So what about Resource Cap consideration.

      I left them out simply because I forgot about them at the time I was writing the post.

      For considering caps the current code is the following:

      Resource Stat/1000 = Percentage of crafted stat achievable.

      Now if the developers were thinking if the required Resource Stat capped at 600 they could increase the potential crafted stat to the point that the 600 stat resource would produce the desired crafted value. In practice maintaining an understanding of this need is not done very well.

      The best solution is to code it so that the crafted item max is the intended max and the code deals with the required resource cap.

      So the formula would be changed to the following:

      Resource Stat/Required Resource Stat = Percentage of crafted stat achievable

      Now if a resource stat buff is added then it should be:

      MIN((Resource Stat + Buff)/Required Resource Stat, 1.00000) = Percentage of crafted stat achievable

      At one point SOE also took the minimum cap of the stat into account so it was:

      (Resource Stat Max - Required Stat Min)/(Required Resource Stat Max - Required Resource Stat Min) = Percentage of crafted stat achievable

      And if it is less than 0.001 then set it to 0.001.

      The problem with this is that in many situations it could produce lower achievable results. For example a resource stat with a minimum value of 400 would be a 40% craft in the current system and generally slightly higher in the proposed system. With this system a 1% craft is possible.

      The argument can be made that the third formula should be used and the values of the craftable range would reflect actual desired minimum and maximum values.

      Ideally the third formula along with adjusting all craftable items is the correct way to go. I believe that SOE dropped using the third idea because they did not want to revamp all of their schematics.

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    5. And finally changing how resources spawn. Like considering caps I simply forgot about it when I was doing the post.

      Since I have already ruled out flattening the stats there are two things to consider. The first is removing the SWGEmu throttle that makes the top 10% of a resource stats rare. I have assumed that this throttle is set to not be used by default since the throttle is not Publish 14.1 behavior. Even if the SWGEmu team forgets to make this change it is a simple configuration change to make.

      So to me all that is left is a certain aspect of that Everquest effect for new crafters. I have already talked about stat inequality, the other issue is simple basic spawn inequality.

      If you need Titanium-Aluminum to make something and it has not spawned since you have been playing you can not make the item.

      One thing that I have always wanted to do was change the spawn code to keep track of what has spawned and to make sure that in a say 6 or 12 month period every resource type has spawned at least once.

      Personally I see no reason to add to the calculation the quality of the spawn. That could be dealt with with the quality buff. Here the issue is the very existence of a spawn in a reasonable time period.

      I think that everything but organic food could be possible with a less than 6 month window but organic food spawns for long enough and has so many types that a cycle longer than 6 months may be needed. I see no reason for separate cycles so I would pick one that covers everything.

      Also note that there is no specific order within each cycle. Polysteel Copper could spawn at the start or the end and anytime in-between during a cycle. The only prediction would be if you track the spawns and if you notice that the end of a cycle is nearing and no Polysteel Copper has spawned then you should be watching for it. (Of course a resource tracking site could be useful if they tracked and reported this info also.)

      Well this reply probably could have been a new item of its own, it certainly would not have needed being split into separate posts, but I hope this clears up my thoughts on this subject.

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    6. This is my radical idea for changing resource spawns.

      Expand planetary resources and eliminate non-planetary. Thus there would be a Naboo Steel, a Tat steel, a Corellian steel etc. Then a Naboo copper, alum, jemstone, radioactive etc. etc.

      Of course you would need to change schematics to reflect the new resource names. At the same time I would add many more new "named" resources to schematic requirements.

      We could keep resource caps, just rename duralloy steel to Naboo steel, Carbonite Steel to Tat Steel etc. The JTL resources would be renamed as planetary resources too. And while I was at it, make the newly named JTL resources conform to their "native caps". For instance steel's CD would be 1-650.

      Advantages: every resource would always be in spawn. Random resources spawns would be eliminated, but resource stats would still be random.

      Disadvantages: the resource mini-game loses some of its excitement and we "dumb down" resource gathering.

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    7. Why I hate Resource Buffs

      The game has already made the choice that resource quality and resource quality alone will determine how good your crafted item can be. Your skill, a randomly generated number, loot items, buffs, proximity items etc. only determine if you reach the limit of your resource quality. Once you understand this you are on your way to crafting mastery.

      Resource buffs, unnecessarily, mess with this fundamental principle of crafting.

      Your idea is this helps new players "level the playing field" by allowing them to use lessor resources to get the same results as older players. My take is that new players are not likely to understand how Resource buffs work, while experienced players will, and it will be a way experienced players outmaneuver new players to make better products rather then the other way around.

      If we must have it, I don't like it as an Entertainer buff. On Live, I could not always find an Ent to do the buffs, I felt forced to pay $15 for a second account to have my own Ent buffer. I vastly preferred the NGE expertise option. Again, if we must have it, I would prefer it as a crafting structure bonus with perhaps a jewelry option (crafted would be my choice) for crafting away from the structure.

      Basically, I find Resource Buffs to be incompatible to the basic principles of crafting and an unnecessary added complexity that does not improve the game.

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    8. Expanding Planetary Resources and eliminating general resources is an interesting idea. It certainly is a solution to the issue of needed/popular resource types do not spawn for long periods of time. Your suggestion gave me an idea on how to implement what I feel is a better solution because it minimizes what lots would see as a dumbing down of the mini-game.

      You are correct that some people will see it as a dumbing down of the mini-game. The problem is that for groups of people any change, including adding complexity, will be derided as a dumbing down of that aspect of the game.

      Some servers may and probably should try to implement your idea, I want to see how it works. Personally I think you have a great idea but I would use it differently. By tweaking the planetary spawn system and removing the general spawn system you could have a system where general spawns appear completely random but under the covers would always spawn every so often without constantly being in spawn.


      Now on to resource buffs.

      Everyone has an opinion and I want to hear it when it comes to my ideas. If I did not want or appreciate feedback this would be a set on notes in a file on my computer and not out in public where people can provide feedback. (So for those of you who are reading this and not providing feedback this is your open invitation to do so.)

      I do agree that when the game launched the basic principles of crafting did not include resource quality buffs. But any good game adapts to fix portions of the game that are not working as intended. The resource mini-game most certainly was not intended to place new players at a disadvantage but it clearly became obvious that it did. SOE added two things that could help address this problem. One was the 30k resource deed. While the public, and probably original intent, reason for it was to allow crafters to get named resources to continue using manufacturing schematics after you ran out of the resource players used it completely differently. Players eventually came to use it to get the best resources that they may have missed or ran out of. This missed resources certainly would and did help players that were new to the game. But it was obvious that if they were common enough to fix the new player problem they would certainly destroy the resource mini-game and fortunately SOE, in one of their few intelligent moments, never tried to increase their availability in the live game. (I do feel that they could be more readily available, but not to the point that would solve the problem.)

      The second attempt was the resource quality buff. I was not on the test server while they were experimenting with this, but I have been told that SOE tried buffs as high as "60%". A buff this high would have been enough to max out most if not all resource stats very quickly. But it certainly would have leveled the playing field. The eventual "2%" and "4%" did not level the playing field but added some complexity. Personally I am coming to believe that "7%" to "10%" would be the better number without completely destroying the mini-game like "60%" would. (Just so you understand when SOE said 2% what they did was to add 2% of 1000 or 20 points. It never was 2% of the actual stat. So when I say "2%" or "60%" I mean adding 20 or 600.)

      Personally I feel that leveling the new vs. old playing field is important in crafting. In the rest of SWG Entertainers and Combat characters have the ability to reach a level playing field no matter when they start. I really feel that this not being true for crafters was not intended and the problem is how to achieve it without taking too much away.

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    9. As to getting the buff from Entertainers like it was in the CU, I have to agree with you completely. One of the negative changes in the CU was the change to Entertainer buffing. In trying to respond to the vocal Entertainers who hated that buffs could be done AFK, SOE gave Entertainers multiple buffs but the Entertainer had to pick which one to give. So not only did you have to find an Entertainer you had to find one that was at the keyboard so that they could change to the resource buff you wanted.

      If we kept to the pre-CU Entertainer buffing system where Entertainer buffs could be given in parallel there would be no need to find an ATK Entertainer. But you would still have to find an Entertainer.

      Implementing the bonus as a skill or item based enhancement would certainly be possible. The first question is do you want there to be a crafting dependency on Entertainers like you have with Chefs?

      My personal thought is in line with you there with no as an answer. I would either add it to the artisan survey skill, as part of a new profession or as a wearable item buff. It could be added as a food buff but I see no need for a third item from Chefs. I am leaning toward being in skill boxes since that is easy to tweak since a change to the iff file takes place at the next reboot. Changing an item means that players would have to get the new item. This is very bad since if you want to lower it how do you get the "too good" item out of the game?

      Since I mentioned the question of crafting having a dependency on Entertainers. If I were to add a dependency here I would probably add Battle Fatigue to hand crafting and hand sampling. Fatigue from monotonous activity certainly feels realistic. But there would need to be real consequences from having fatigue added to both of these activities. For hand sampling fatigue could add up to a 80 or 90 percent reduction in resources gathered when fatigue was maxed out. This certainly would make long term AFK sampling less enticing.

      For hand crafting it could either reduce the chance of a good or better experimentation result or simply increase the time it took to make the item. Maybe even a combination of the two.

      It is not something I am currently considering but I sort of do like having it impact hand sampling.

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  2. Hey, I'm just some pleb that wandered in and read this..but what if resources decayed? "xxx Steel has rusted" "xxx wood has decayed" or something. Wouldn't that eventually kill the stockpile issue? I suppose they could just use up what they had and mass produce with their stockpiles and save the items.

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    1. That would be one way to reduce stockpiles of raw resources.

      I would also agree that having resource stockpiles decay would be one way to remove the advantage that long term crafters have over newer players and is one thing to consider.

      I can see two implementation problems with doing this. The first is that the SWGEmu development team has not yet documented how to parse through the player items database to find all the player owned items. To work properly you would have to make it an infinite level search so that resources could not be hidden from such a search. On the live servers that used similar database code players knew that storing things in a droid, on a POB ship, on a vendor or even in a bag in another container would keep items from being found. If this decay search had the same exploit it would be far less effective at removing stockpiles of veteran resources since it would be reasonable to assume that if there is a way to hide resources from decay the veterans would discover it.

      The second issue is the concept of take away. There are two situations that I can see. The first is the quantity reduction from inventory. Many players would see it as undoing their hard work to get the resources for nothing more than their not using it. Personally I would think hard about playing on such a server, but it would not be an automatic decision to not play there since every player would be effected by this. I would also say that for players who forgot about this or did not know about it there would be lots of CSR tickets and bug reports on "My resources disappeared". Telling players that is the way it is and their resources are gone after they file such a ticket is not conducive to their continuing to play on the server. The other issue is selling resources on vendors and the Bazaar. If they do not decay while listed then it would increase the use of storage vendors to nullify the decay. Again that would be a situation that makes it not worth doing. But players would not be willing to pay Xcr for 999 units when a fresher listing may be asking Xcr for 1000 units simply because none of the items have decayed. Yes you could have the price decay but some merchants may not want the game doing anything like that in the economy.

      It is an interesting idea. However, at the current time I am not sure how practical or acceptable a solution it would be. I also suspect that if implemented there would be calls to decay the bank reserves of the "super wealthy" in game who are also usually veteran players. While I see it as a problem also, I also feel that the game mechanics should stay away from trying to deal with that problem and leave it up to the players to address it in game.

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