Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Writ Dilution Dilation

My post Writ Dilution, much to my surprise, has inspired more comments than any other post on my blog. Welcome!

Commenter Stephanie points out that dilution occurs with coin rewards to ordinary quests, too. I didn't know that. I'll have to pay more attention in the future.

Commenters Stargrace and Stephanie point out that the specific problem I mentioned is likely due to the fact that quests normally degrade rewards as you level, and that this happens while you are working on the quest or writ is likely an oversight.

Which I think is more or less accurate. I have begun to wonder, though, about the entire scheme of reducing the status or gold reward as you level.

When I take a job in the real world, I don't get paid less because I'm more experienced. I might learn less while doing it, thus I don't mind reduced experience awards. I'm not explicitly promised a specific amount of experience by a quest anyway. I am promised a specific amount of gold and status. If I'm higher level, they will pay me less? It doesn't make sense.

Furthermore, it doesn't change my behavior in any obvious way. When I do Rush Orders, I do the hardest one available. Full stop. And I watch the rewards for cooking a rush order decrease as I become a better cook. Wha?

Ask yourself this question: Each Rush Order is available to me for a span of about 15 levels. If we were to take the average of the status awards over those levels and just fix the status to be that average over those entire 15 levels, what difference would it make? Would there be an exploit? I can't see one. Would I change my behavior and not do a harder Rush Order when it becomes available? No, because the harder one would still have a bigger reward.

Some programmer (and I'm a programmer, so it might have been me) had to write code that made coin and status rewards decline as the character levels. Maybe it reused code for experience rewards, so it wasn't too much trouble. But it was some effort. But I can't see the value add of that effort. How does this make the game more fun to play? How does it prevent exploits? How does it build community? I don't see the value in it.

Mind you, three years ago, I was probably all for it. But since then I've played other games that don't do it and realized it wasn't adding anything. It just seems like SOE is cracking the whip at me for no good reason.

Some commenters have suggested that I use /feedback. I've used it before, and I probably will on this issue. However, even though I don't think this blog is all that influential, I still think it has more visibility than a single /feedback. So I'll post about it here. And in some regards, there's a philosophical argument here for fewer mechanics. Which doesn't belong in a /feedback.

You know, when a mob I didn't see jumps out from around a corner, I think, "Well done, level designer". Well, actually first I think, "Oh ******! Time to mez". That's the kind of thing the game devs should be trying to torment you with. Or putting red sparklies in new zones and not telling anyone. Hurt me like that some more. But the dilution of writ and quest rewards isn't like that. I say, no thanks.

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