Gorgon Chat Logs, pt 1

[You would not believe how much I've been sleeping this week. I'm still officially on vacation until next week, when I have to catch up on all the stuff that's been delayed a month for the Kickstarter. Oh boy! But I figured I'd talk a bit about what was learned from the pre-alpha test, by sharing some of the chat logs.]

On Tricky Quests

> Mmm after the kill 10 spiders quest ya get a kill 30 goblins quest… wish I’d known before I went all over killing those gobs.
> Bug that
> Bug it? Not a bug just the order of the quests
> That type of quest is what is wrong with questing

 

Lots of people had a similar reaction to this. Which is a totally fair complaint, on the face of it. But there’s a twist: I made this quest inconvenient on purpose. And I made it require far more monster-kills than any other quest in the pre-alpha, in order to get players to consider not doing it.

The NPC who gives that quest has two talk options. You can say “30 goblins? You got it!” or “why do you want them killed?” And if you follow the latter all the way through, you talk her out of wanting those goblins killed, and you get a big XP reward to Psychology instead.

Very few people opted to talk the NPC out of her insane request. That means that if I want to have these sort of “hidden options” in dialog trees, I’ll have to work a whole lot harder. And … it probably shows that it’s not worth the effort to hide quest alternatives in talk trees. I’ll just let people do the damned quests.

Stability Problems

> Then after the 3rd time I was kicked to the loading screen I tried to log back in and got the old EQ message that I am already logged in
> didnt eric say it will be an old school game? ;)
> LOL’
> Didn’t understand that he mean an authentic recreation of the agony of trying to play an oldschool game when it was new with a bad connection.

 

Yeah, there’s been some server hiccups. :) Over the week, we fixed the majority of connectivity problems, but there are still some server crashes left. They’re caused by race conditions, where some threads get deadlocked somehow. In the last few days of the test, I added a ton of debug-logging to track the issue down, but unfortunately, the extra logging slowed the server down just enough that the bug didn’t happen anymore. We’ll get it all fixed eventually, though!

Cow Talk

> mooo mooo muuu
> mooooo
> grrr
> cant find muuu
> muuu
> muuuu
> milk
> lol moo
> Developers if you are on... m mo not like moo
(Translation: "Developers if you are on... i do not like you")

 

I expected that the constant moo-ing of cows would get old, but for me it never did. I found it hilarious right up until the end. Sorry to laugh at your suffering… but it was funny!

The good news is that it’s temporary — if you talk enough, you’ll raise your Beast Speech skill, which increases your chances of talking normally. When that skill is maxed out, there should be a 98% chance to say the right word instead of “moo”.

The bad news is that there was a bug that made it cap out at 85% instead of 98%. Oops! The difference between 85 and 98 might sound small, but in terms of being able to communicate easily it’s huge. It made being a long-term animal player much more annoying than intended. This bug is fixed for the next test.

Art History?

> Hey if you want to learn art history you have to kill the goblin boss in the dungeon and save the pixie

 

This (completely correct) sentence makes me happy for some reason I can’t quite elucidate. Something about having an art history skill in the game, I guess…

The quest they’re talking about wasn’t a “real” quest, though, which made it pretty confusing. It was implemented before the quest system existed, and it just uses some NPC state flags, not a real quest that shows up in your quest-log. That meant you could never really tell if you were “on” the quest or if you’d done it right, which led to a lot of confusion. I’ll try to get that fixed for the next time.

Insane Loot!

> Moo a purple helm to anyone who’s willing to mooo to the crypt area to pick it up

 

There were a ton of balance issues. For instance, a max-level Cow was dramatically more powerful than a max-level Werewolf. This was definitely not intentional. But the biggest problem was the treasure system.

Each of the many treasure buffs were supposed to only show up on specific slots. So you might find an helmet that’s “+30 damage to goblins”, but you wouldn’t also find shoes with that buff — it could only be found on helmets. However, all the powers could be found on  all slots, and they all stacked. So players who pulled enough items could increase their damage output by about 800% over what I intended. Which is high.

For the next test, I’ll be adding a bunch more treasure mods, and I’ll also lock them to specific equipment slots.

There were also about 5x more epic and rare items than would normally be in the game. I cranked it up because there was only a week of testing, and I wanted people to get good equipment quickly. We’ll probably leave that alone for the next test, since it’ll be time-limited also. This way, people will help spot serious imbalances quickly.

On the down side, some players complained that rare loot was so common that it felt boring. Those people are just whiners, though. Pay them no mind! (For now.)

[I'll be back later with more! Right now, it's time for another nap.]

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20 Responses to Gorgon Chat Logs, pt 1

  1. Timulus says:

    I’m personally very tired of the quest log paradigm. The level of handholding in current MMO’s makes questing very robotic and monotonous. Of course, I also think Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made.

  2. whackedenforce says:

    This looks like a very great soon to come game cant wait for the alpha to come out!

  3. Azuriel says:

    30 goblins is still reasonable, depending on the game. Bump it to 100 goblins. Or some even more arbitrary number, like 92 or 107. If you use quest tracking text (i.e. “6/30 goblins killed”) and have the tech, you could change the text as they go along to “18/100 goblins… what am I doing?” and then maybe “37/100 goblins… maybe I should talk to X again…” and so on. And if the players actually kill the requisite number of goblins, give them Psychology XP anyway for being crazy.

    Alternatively, keep it at 30 but make every goblin drop family photos as unstackable loot with flavor text that makes them feel bad, subtly hinting to talk with the quest giver again.

  4. The Guilty Party says:

    The moo thing is completely hilarious. Please leave that in.

  5. whackedenforce says:

    If someone could reply is there any time period this is going to released to alpha or beta like 2013 3rd Q Or just a year like 2013-2014?

  6. Jezebeau says:

    Higher numbers would work. With good respawn rates, 30 is not a monumental effort (especially since it’s kills and not 30 murloc heads at a 20% drop chance). Some of us killed countless legions of golems for our pyreal motes, and that didn’t have a quest log entry.

    Remember that the vast majority of your alpha-test players have been MMO veterans, and we will presume the option to not accept the quest will simply close the dialog and not accept the quest. We don’t know to look for these things, and the format is so ingrained that most of the explorers didn’t even get it. It’s absolutely worth it to have those options. Players just have to get used to the idea that they may exist.

    My only complaint with art history is that the biggest, best paintings still weren’t worth looting over common, random gear drops. The most valuable painting I found was worth 500, and gear worth 600 was easy to find.

  7. Jason says:

    One thing that I always found useful in the KOTOR games was that conversation choices would indicate their impact on your light-dark side. Even if it were just an icon, not a number, knowing that one choice would raise your light-side (thereby decreasing your dark-side) or vice-versa might give a player pause. Now, granted, you don’t have light-side/dark-side, but you do have other skills that certain quest or conversation choices might impact.

    That way you give the player a little knowledge ahead of time that choosing the path of peace would benefit their psychology while choosing the path of murder would benefit (or perhaps have a negative impact) on another skill.

    Choices are a great mechanism that are highly under-utilized in online games, but you cannot expect players to make uninformed choices in games where they do not have the capability to load up from a save point if the choice hurts them.

  8. Mitch says:

    Check out “Claptrap’s Secret Stash” in Borderlands 2 for an example of a quest with insane requirements (that you aren’t actually required to do).

    It’s pretty hilarious.

  9. twb says:

    I’ll second Azuriel’s idea of using a non-round number, like 109, as a subtle cue that “something’s not right here.” If you give the user an odd and highly specific value like that, they’ll be more likely to want to know the reason for it, and you can guide them down the dialog chain. Great idea, Az!

  10. Rhodoman says:

    I completely agree on the moo’ing. It just never got old.

    I must not have been careful enough with Miss 30 goblins lady. I went through what I thought was the whole “why should I do this?” conversation tree, but never had her give up on it. Great idea, though (and in pre-alpha, it’s just as likely to be out of balance as anything else).

    Get some read (*both* of you) and I’ll look forward to whatever you’re up to next.

    Rho

  11. Mike Grem says:

    Hey Eric, with the 30 goblins quest, you could try changing the line to something like “30 goblins?! That’s ridiculous! Why?” That might grab a player’s attention more, instead of what they might assume is just lore background on a quest.

  12. Lolin says:

    I like Az’s ideas. I also like that no one is suggesting we put neon punctuation over quest givers heads, even though it means I manage to miss quests and have to go searchingfor quest givers I have already been to. Makes it a more immersive experience.

  13. tad says:

    Any kind of multi-questing is terrible – ask for heads (which always drop) instead of a set number. Also I agree on the questing to level – it is pretty tired. Quests should be rare and interesting.

  14. I’m very bored with the quest log paradigm. The level of handholding in current MMO’s has become very monotonus.

  15. Pingback: [BL2] Morally Ambivalent | Kill Ten Rats

  16. Ken says:

    Interesting that a max level cow was more powerful than a werewolf. I found that the low level werewolf was much more powerful than a low level cow.

    I liked the animal speech too, it is fun, though I know it can be frustrating too. So, it will be nice for the probability of getting it right to go up to 98%. I could swear that bug crept in during the last pre-alpha because it felt like I was at 98% with my cow right around the time he maxed out beast speech.

    Looting was fun for me, I didn’t really mind that paintings were low in coin value, I would just loot them and appraise them to raise my art history skill. The items with necromancy mods were a nice tease. It was interesting to see cow and werewolf mod items come in, that will add real value to having worked through leveling up those forms.

    More!

  17. Phil Cooper says:

    I love online games and this one sound like worth the wait

  18. Cloo says:

    I have a lot more fun in MMOs when my motivations are self-created, instead of from a quest log. For instance, in FFXIV, I would go on a self-imposed “quest” of finding a good grinding spot for my guild. Or learning how to craft a certain wand for myself and to sell, which included its own set of sub-challenges such as tracking down where to farm an elusive alchemy component. These tasks settle well in my brain, whereas standard MMO quests don’t because they are arbitrary.

    I’m ok with a few arbitrary long-term goals (i.e. kill the final boss of the game). But not 1 every minute like GW2.

  19. Neofit says:

    Hi,

    I’ve missed the whole Kickstarter thing and I hate myself for this. This also means that I haven’t played the game yet, but would like to commment on the comments here.

    re: The Kill 30 mobs quest.
    30 mobs isn’t that many if it doesn’t take 5 minutes to bring one down. Besides, one may want to do a bit of grinding on them for money, loot, materials, adventuring exp, skills, “for the horde”, whatever. And such a quest provides, at least for me, some kind of license to kill, like I’m not just grinding for myself but for the good of the people. A bit like the tasks posted eveywhere in LOTRO.

    Also, this quest apparently gives a choice:
    Choice 1: Kill 30 mobs and get exp and loot
    Choice 2: get +psychology instead
    I hate having this kind of choice :). How about, after becoming “smarter” by choosing 2, I figure out that I may be missing out on something useful, and say “OK, still want me to kill the 30 goblins? 15?” and have the best of both worlds?

    re: quest givers
    The question of them having signs above their heads was raised. I remember FFXI didn’t have any markers over quest givers. It was a real chore, after every levelup or finished quest, to make the rounds to see if anything new had become available. It’s not like I am harrassing everyone at the office or in the street about giving me something to do? It is not less-immersion breaking for me than seeing some marks above their heads, but much more tedious.

    Is there a way to make these quest-giver markers a client-side option? Or maybe have them beckon the player when they have something available, like in EQ2, *they* want something from me after all? OTOH in the latter they were beckoning everyone in sight so you never knew if it was for you or someone else, so the animation should be decided client-side too.

  20. Pai says:

    Or, make a town message board in the square where new notes will appear when NPCs have quests. There could be a simple ‘Help Wanted’ text and the name of the person offering the quest and where they are (for example, ‘Old Tom at the Tavern wants [x] done, contact if interested!’.

    Solves the exclamation point eyesore as well as the monotony of having to run around an entire town of unmarked NPCs to find who’s got something for you to do. It’s also a fairly realistic way people would offer jobs just in general.