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Letter from the Game Director: 14 January 2008

Herein, the letter from the Game Director from 14 January 2008.

As I mentioned in the last letter, one of the major changes in 17.8 will revolve around the process of replacing the PVP title system, and introducing separate rankings for solo and teaming PVP as well as a true dueling system with its own ranks as well for those that prefer that style of PVP as well. There are also some Notum Wars changes afoot that we will get to later on in this letter. So with this letter I’m going to explain in more detail exactly what is coming your way in this regard.

It’s also a fairly lengthy letter this time out with a lot to cover on this subject so hopefully it illustrates the thoughts and efforts that are going into redefining the system. 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty I just want to stress that we truly hope that we will be able to cater for all the PVP tastes as much as possible with these changes and be mindful of passionately those who participate in PVP. There were definitely some very hard choices to be made and I want to address the most important, and probably most contentious of them first – namely, death and progression and what it means to a PVP system.

PVP and death 

There will be no consequences to death in terms of your new PVP score. 

There, I said it. (Please do read on though before you jump to the ‘post’ button on the forums!) So are we copping out and making it ‘meaningless’ by not incorporating loss with death? I honestly don’t believe that or we wouldn’t be doing it. Having a death penalty for PVP, let alone a harsh one, means that it becomes a focus for players more than actually taking part in the action. If it’s imperative you don’t die then you don’t take as many risks, you don’t commit yourself fully to the action, and when you multiply that out over many people taking part it leads to the situation we saw all too often up till now where it was more important to players to very selectively pick their targets and not risk anything. At the end of the day we thought overall that was counter-productive to a more enjoyable PVP environment.

I think the original PVP title system that was introduced back in the day had very genuine intentions behind it, and in a ‘perfect world’ it would even sound like a very good system, and in many respects it served to provide something that some players have found enjoyable to varying degrees down the years. However with the wonderful tool of hindsight I think its fair to say that it had one inherent flaw – it placed far too much importance on not dying. This was the cornerstone of the choice that we were faced with when considering changing the PVP system. We went through various ways to try and consider how to handle death, but at the end of the day we couldn’t avoid the fact that the way with the least possible complications and possible exploits was to not have death affect your PVP progress. 

So how does the system actually work?

The New Ranks 

As mentioned in the previous letter there will be three separate progressions for you to take part in with the new system. Solo PVP, Team PVP and Duels.

You will be able to choose which title is visible on your character (also selectable will be your ‘legacy’ pre-17.8 title if you had one). 

Players will now have a series of new stats visible in their character sheet that display the number of solo kills and deaths, team kills and deaths and Duel kills and deaths. Each relevant kill also provides you with a score that is added to your total for that form of PVP (you can look on it as PVP exp as it were) and that score allows you to proceed up the available ranks for that form of PVP.

The score for each kill will be based on a calculation between your level and your targets levels. The bigger the difference the more or less points you will receive for killing that player depending on whether you are higher or lower than them in level. 

If you are in a team (or killed by a team) the score is credited to your team score (and kill / death listing) as a team-kill rather than a solo-kill. Who is credited with the kill is decided by who does the most damage to the target.

So what are the ranks themselves? 

Solo Ranks

·         shodan

·         nidan

·         sandan

·         yodan

·         godan

·         rokudan

·         nanadan

·         hachidan

·         kudan

·         judan

Team Ranks 

·         Scout

·         Suppressor

·         Captain

·         Tactician

·         Leader

·         Commander

·         General

·         Distinguished

·         Honored

·         Hero

Duel Ranks

·         Student

·         Freshman

·         Rookie

·         Apprentice

·         Novice

·         Neophyte

·         Veteran

·         Experienced

·         Expert

       ·         Champion 

Special Titles


There are two special titles available. If a player has max rank in both solo and team ranks then they are called a ‘Combat Master’ if they are max rank in all three rankings then they are called a ‘Grand Master’.

Dueling

The final available ladder of progression will be for the new duel mode. Players will now be able to duel another player by targeting them and typing /duel which will send a duel invitation to the other player. (There will be an F10 option to auto-refuse duels so as to prevent people spamming this window on you)

Once a duel is accepted the fight starts and a beacon is placed on the ground. Players will have to remain within a certain radius of the beacon or they will forfeit the duel (this is to prevent players hiding far way to prevent them from losing). Players who zone or otherwise ‘evac’ will also count as having lost the duel.

Duels will be possible in any 75% or 100% zone, if you are in a 25% zone then the normal PVP system apply and duels are not possible (to avoid people being able to use duels to avoid the consequences of being in a PVP enabled area). You will be able to duel anyone regardless of their side.

When in duel mode you cannot be aided by outside heals or buffs. Any buffs applied before the duel starts though will still be valid as we felt this was part of PVP set-up that was important to players who enjoy this aspect of PVP.

Players can choose to concede the duel by typing /duel stop. This counts as losing the duel.

The duel ends when a player is reduced to 1hp. This means that you don’t actually die and have to go through reclaim. Be warned though mobs ignore the duel mode and will still attack and fight you as normal, so find a safe spot to duel! Again this was required to prevent people from abusing duel mode as a means of navigating dangerous areas.

As mentioned above your number of duel kills and deaths will also be visible in your character display.

Diminishing returns

With a PVP system that awards points for kills one issue that always crops up is people ‘farming’ their kills. While we can’t hope to get rid of the practice entirely (we have enough experience to know by now that enterprising players will always find some way to try it), we can minimize its effectiveness and make it more difficult. With this in mind 17.8 will also see the introduction of a system of diminishing returns. That is to say the more you target the same person the less reward you get for doing so.

This system works by remembering whom you have killed over a time period and awarding you less points for subsequent deaths. Each kill is remembered for four hours, and each subsequent kill of the same person results is a reduced reward until eventually the reward is almost nothing in terms of points (after five kills or so, although that number may be tweaked during testing).

This system will not apply in the battlestation as we feel that in that environment where you have a limited number of opponents in a very specific scenario where people are dying and returning quickly its not particularly fair to not reward you for your kills there.

Notum Wars Changes

Last but by no means least there are also some changes inbound that relate to Notum Wars, and specifically to the use of the Orbital Strikes and the Air Raids. We are aware that these abilities radically changed the way that Notum Wars worked when introduced alongside the mechanized vehicles in Lost Eden. That was the intention and in some regards they have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve, they have made ‘blobbing’ much, much more difficult to do, and forced people to adopt actual tactics on the battlefield that aren’t simply ‘stand as close together as possible’.

Now, the question is as to whether it has gone to far in the other direction and are the strikes weighting things too much in favor of the defenders. 

When we have looked at this what we saw was twofold I think. Firstly I think there are valid ways for people to tactically offset the power of these weapons. It can be done and I think it makes for better, more engaging encounters overall. There is a ‘but’ though ….the beacons are far too easy to place and when people have to come together (as say when attacking a bases control power) it’s probably currently a touch too easy for the defenders to overpower the attackers due to the ease with which the beacons can be placed.

With this in mind 17.8 will bring with some changes and additions to give people tactical options to help offset this. 

·         It will no longer be possible to place a beacon while in your PVP grace period.

        ·         Fixers will be getting a new active debuff that when landed on a target prevents them from placing beacons for a short period. 

·         Engineers will be getting a new static pet in the form of a jamming tower. When placed in the game world it will pulse a debuff aura every few seconds that prevents the placement of beacons in its radius.

With these additions we want to encourage players to be able to tactically adapt to the Orbital Strikes and Air Raids and try to make the Notum Wars battles a degree more interesting and defense less reliant on just using orbital strikes. I don’t think anyone really wants to just go back to the situation before Lost Eden, but likewise we recognize the frustration if it seems so hard to capture a base that it puts people off attending battles in the first place. Hopefully these changes will address that allow for the correctly organized force to take down higher-level enemy control towers without feeling it’s a lost cause.

Battlestation AFK / Evac Changes

While hopefully the new systems will not incentivise people to feel the need to ‘evac’ as much one final note of changes for 17.8 comes in the form of a change to the /afk function. It will no longer be possible to use the manual /afk command while in the battlestation. The normal time-out version will still work, but you will not be able to use it as an instant escape anymore.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a rundown of the PVP changes for 17.8. I hope that this letter has explained things for everyone and we are looking forward to the testing and seeing these changes on the live dimensions. As I have said before we realize that PVP is a very dynamic element of the game, and fully expect that some of these things will need tweaking during testing, and more then likely after we have gone live with it as well once we see how players adapt to the new systems. So there are exciting times ahead for PVP and we are all very excited to see how they work out.