Finishing the Economy – A 1.3.6 Discussion

One of the things we’ve been discussing with the Core Testers lately is the economy of WAR.  We received some excellent feedback and we’re formulating plans based on that discussion, however we want to open up the dialogue to all players for broader input.

As we continue to look at Warhammer Online (where it’s been and where it’s going), we’re examining the game from a macro and micro (big picture, little picture) level. One of the more macro areas we have discussed is the overall game economy. To put it bluntly, it’s not where we or the players would like it to be.  The designs and decisions made during development left us in a hard position, where, in order to jumpstart the economy, we need to make some changes.  Before we go into that, let us look at the status of the economy now.

The basic principle of a viable sustainable economy is supply and demand. If these are balanced, economies can sustain themselves. Tipping too far to either extreme can cause an economy to falter.  In WAR, one can see examples where we made a misstep based on this principle; too much supply for the demand (plenty of gold, nothing to spend it on), and not enough supply for demand (not enough items are tradable). In a way, these two dynamics feed one another.

Let’s look at an example:
Public Quests provide loot bags which allow the owner to choose an item that is specifically tailored to their class and bind on pickup (BOP). This does two things; limits the potential demand for the product because it is class specific and makes it so it can’t be offered in trade because it is BOP. This feeds the problem that there are  not enough items being available. Compounding the issue, if the item is not useful to the person that earned it, they will sell it, gather gold, and due to the lack of items in demand, they have little to spend their gold on.  It’s a vicious cycle.

So how do we look at ways to change our current economy to balance both supply and demand?  To accomplish this we need to look at solutions that will tweak the way items are rewarded. Not just how useful they are to the individual, but also as potential trade goods in the economy.  We have a good idea on how to do this, but we want to throw the issue out there and get some feedback proactively, before we settle on a design.
 
What we’d like are some thoughts on how to change our world drops, PQ loot, and the like to make them more viable and valuable to the economy which will hopefully balance supply and demand.  Examples would be: making items BOE versus BOP, making items useful to multiple classes, etc.  
 
Making some changes will allow us to redefine the balance of supply and demand and give us greater flexibility in introducing items going forward, which will benefit characters of all ranks. 
 
We’re looking forward to your comments and feedback.
 
James “That Guy” Casey

Associate Producer

Mythic Entertainment
-Link to the Forum Post-

 
Ah, Economy. There’s an aspect of the game that’s gone more or less untouched since release. Oh sure there’s been additions as the like of Medallions, Scarabs and now Insiginas, but these are autonomous and mostly separate from the Gold standard economy. Boot-selling has finally been fixed after nearly a year of easy money being made from collecting a few Officer medallions, although they came from players that made their way through the game legitimately at least once. You can find Gold Scarabs on the Auction House, but their value is slim if only for a few Soul Talismans that are easily enough farmed. Anything resembling Economy is watered down to the point that unless it’s an ultra-rare drop, farming up the cash for it is just as easy as trying to get it yourself. I’ve been taking my time on this post mostly to wiggle through everything that I wanted to have in here without having to write a damn book about it.

The first thing that comes to mind would be a revamp of the BoP/BoE system. Currently, the biggest gripes over gear is doing PvE dungeons that will drop something for anyone that is NOT present at the time (or so it seems), and a lot of gear going un-usable and being salvaged or just sold off. Because the PvE armor sets do not require renown to wear, allowing them to hit the AH unchecked would be disastrous for end-game balance of commitment:power scaling. 

Currently there IS a system in place to allow players to get Wards without wearing a single piece of the armor, I know as I’ve gotten my lesser and greater wards on my Chosen doing this (he’s RR31 at the moment). Although repairable set item drops in PvE would alleviate some of the issues with getting this gear, tying them to a tome unlock (killing the boss X times) to allow them to even be purchased or traded would go much further. Essentially any piece of PvE warded set gear could go on the auction house, but the restriction would be on whether or not the player had gotten the unlock tied to it in order to purchase the piece. It’s another system that guarantees you will eventually get your piece, but ties into player based economy at the same time AND requires players to experience content before reaping the rewards.

Another piece of changing that system would be to go back through and tweak the BoP rates so pretty much everything in the game no longer has it except for the most obvious stuff, and then making any item that is bought off the AH to become BoP when it’s removed from their mailbox. Adding a system that keeps the AH from being gamed by gold farmers and sellers will go a LONG way to stabilizing the economy and revealing where it’s truly at.

Another place that I feel could really afford to be looked at are the Chapter Influence rewards in PvE. For one, the first part of the influence reward is always absolute garbage to the point of being insulting. Most of the time I don’t even bother taking it from the Rally Master at the camps. It should be removed, and the green item should be moved into the first spot, allowing room for the Elite reward to be a purple drop. Seriously, if I went out and killed 50 guys for a reward of a +2 strength talisman someone would be wearing their own ass for a hat. Alternatively, put some real damn talismans in there as a reward, and I don’t mean blue ones either, or a stack of blue potions for your archtypes DPS/HPS or heal/resto pots. Also, tie the rewards to the stages. If you never flip past the first stage then you don’t get the advanced and elite rewards. More gated requirements for participation in content is good. It keeps people from farming the chumps in order to get their easy loot and encourages groups to get together and battle through some of these awesome PQ’s that are ignored out in the world.  

Allow people to continue to accumulate influence even after they recieve their Elite reward. It would keep people coming back at regular intervals in T4 to stock up on good potions or talismans without needing to be a craftsman. Basically on a cumulative scale you could continue to accumulate influence to receive the same rewards over and over again. Say every 10k inf you receive a stack of 5 potions, then every 20k inf you get a purple talisman or something like that. People would be more likely to return and help out after they get their initial gear out of it.

 
Of course, most of this I could care less about. The real money makers should come from the fallen bodies of your enemies. As such, I would encourage our RvR currency to be locked similar to the Scenario currency. No down-conversion, and only allow up-conversion after your renown rank allows it. By doing this you have opened up additional possibilities when it comes to looting, possibilities for itemizing renown ranks instead of dropping normal ranked items, and possibilities for a new segment of the auction house that allows you to sell by medallion and crest costs instead of gold. Keep up with me here because it gets more interesting.

Most recently with Insignias and Emblems hitting the Scenario market we can start to see a trend as to where focus could be shifting. Scenarios net you weapons of all types purchasable with weapon oriented currency. I think on top of this, drops during scenarios should also be weapons. BoE weapons and only as high in RR as the player dropping them in the first place. Get some itemization in there for purple, blue, and green drops for every couple of RR’s then balance them against the current scenario weapons. This means you have additional ways to get your loot, from drops and currency.

Originally, Medallions and Crests were added into the game to supplement horrid drop rates and randomized bags. Why aren’t these two factors being added into scenarios along with the currency? Take for example at the end of each scenario the winning team gets a lottery roll. One gold bag containing a weapon closest to their RR, then random amounts of other bags depending on the total score between both sides (500 v 499 being the best score possible). The Gold bag would be the next blue weapon you could possibly get with a selection of archtype based liniments, talismans, and crafting materials if you weren’t interested in the weapon itself, or fused-whatever-currency. Purple would contain the next lower ranked purple weapon that you could use, Blue would be next blue down the list, etc. etc.. Think one gold bag per scenario is too much? Have it happen once an hour or every three hours. Want to see people scramble around like crazy? Announce at the beginning of the scenario that this battle would be for bag drops in big dramatic fashion.

Either way, adding drops to PvP and Lottery rolls every handful of scenarios would stimulate something silly and get you out from under the death stare from people that have been collecting, nay HOARDING, medallions for the past year. These items hitting the Auction House would only go so far since the required currency to buy and sell them would be the very Emblems and Insignias that it requires to buy them from a vendor. Again, gating the rewards by requiring content to be experienced. Granted, prices would be regulated by the players instead of the developers, the only thing devs could really do is put a reasonable cap on the amount of Emblems and Insignias allowed to be requested at a time.

The trick to adding in tons of content is to blitz the field with so much stuff at one time that people scramble around like crazy to get it across all facets of the game. With the release of 1.3.4 dumping all the candy into one corner of the game, things have been pretty sour for anyone that actually enjoyed RvR and weren’t that fond of facerolling premade scenario groups. Developers shot off a little too early, gave the entire playerbase one singular goal, and then made it so ridiculously unattainable that players became fed up and stopped trying to do it legitimately. Now instead of every other player having a fancy weapon and fighting over who gets theirs next, we have players literally running into the middle without worrying about dying, KNOWING that they’ll be rewarded for losing and embracing the fact.

It’s really not that hard to AFK through a scenario. Put on some TV, click yes when a scenario pops, run behind a building. Wiggle your mouse occasionally and collect emblems/freenown. You people can all burn and die as far as I care, but I understand why you’re doing it.

Without further ado I would present to you the same system be added to RvR as well. Renown based armor drops from players, and a continuation of Renown Gear merchants that extends all the way up the RR’s. Add on top of this something else that all the hoarded medallions could finally be used for. Relatively cheap renown gear that should be slightly less powerful than the equivalent set gear (mid RR40’s being better than annihilator except the set bonuses, but not as good as conq). Granted of course the renown gear merchants would never sell anything besides greens, wheras drops from high RR players could be blues or purples… 

Considering the epic endgame renown grinding that is ahead of us all, I think we’ve been secretly wondering as a community, why are armor sets the only thing we have to look forward to? Add RR based gear to the game for RvR as well as scenarios and you’ll spread out the population a little bit more. Add lots of filler in-between the uber shinies and you won’t have people grinding their fingers to the bone to get it. With the current system in scenarios, people WILL eventually get their shinies, but in the meantime they have NOTHING to look forward to. Give them a something else to play with and more than likely they will calm down on the ultra-focus of uber-shiny at the end of the nigh-endless tunnel. Renown is just another leveling system, and it’s BY FAR the longer path to take, yet we have how many thousands less items involved in it? Two weapons every 10 RR’s past 40, and a grand total of 5 armor sets? Compared to the THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of normal R1-R40 pieces of gear?

Alright then guy-who-picked-up-itemization-responsibility, get your ass to work on finishing the game. Maybe we’ll see something in 1.3.6, because I know something to that magnitude wont make it with 1.3.5

Cheers!

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