The Botpocalypse … aka wasted talent and effort

So why don’t we talk a little about the whole botpocalypse and laws scripting.

It seems to be all the rage to drone on about this ad nausem and maybe it’ll bring me some traffic! ūüôā No, in seriousness I don’t want to talk much about it but what I would like to talk about is some of the issues that I feel motivate players to automate leveling.

For the record, I have written this article multiple times and deleted it avowing not to go on a tirade. I hope what follows is more well reasoned than my previous attempts.

First the idea that some people just hate leveling is entirely fine by me. Some hate pkill, mkill or any given aspect of the game and I am not one to tell anyone that they have to conform to any style of game play. This situation has long been addressed by paying someone else to do it for you. Hating leveling is a motivation for scripted leveling due to the profit it brings the leveler.

The profit found in leveling is accentuated by the fact that a number of the most popular leveling mobs give fairly decent gold return. Without surprising anyone at all I’ll point to Crab Guards, many of the mobs in Mithril Hall and almost all the mobs in Spectrum. I imagine the goal was for low level characters to be able to get some gold and buy some supplies while they adventure. If a leveler makes the effort to maximize their gold/experience gain in their mob selection the profit for leveling sharply increases.

So I’m sure at this point we can agree that the motivation for the leveler is quite clear. It is a service in demand that pays very, very well.

Why do people tend to hate leveling so much? It is simply because it is repetitive and tedious. Almost nothing you do while you level makes a whit of difference to your end product, no gear is worth keeping, no quest adds anything interesting to the avatar to be. More on this later.

Ultimately it is the demand from players though that drives the supply. So let’s touch on a few aspects of that.

Players desire to have multiple characters in order to participate in all the game’s content. It’s no accident that some classes are nearly useless at certain mobs. Nor is this undesirable. Why should every class be able to efficiently destroy every mob? I strongly agree that class balancing needs to be visited to make the classes more generally effective, however, I argue that if we blur the lines too much, we may as well simply have a single super class. I would suggest that not only is this particular motivation normal, but it’s even healthy. Try the game from different points of view.

Some players will desire multiples of the same class in order to be able to go out and gather area pops or kill particular mobiles repeatedly (farming) or to repeat other repetitive tasks such as brewing. Let’s take that sentence apart a bit.

In item farming, whether area pops or from mobiles, there are different motivations. Some items are farmed because the item is always useful, it’s consumable and needs to be harvested en masse. Other items are farmed because the item has a large level range and are particularly valued in lower levels. Things like the apples of life and the low level pops in Coral Depths come to mind though there are a tremendous amount of examples. Other items have variations that people are trying to overcome, whether it is micro-optimizing for the higher average damage Justice or trying to get devout scales from Justice.

Lets address the en masse farming, especially prevalent in area pops. This isn’t a conversation about whether farming is good or bad, I’m only acknowledging what is. There are a few main strategies being used to discourage farming that encourage people to have a mass of character. In the case of the multi-tinker ores they appear at reboot … so the strategy is to blanket the Realms with characters that can farm at 6am in multiple areas simultaneously. Or we can make the time random like the Skulk and encourage the same strategy with a trigger to log into the area each repop and check then log out. Or can we make it appear in random rooms and put some aggro mobs wandering about to make it a pain in the arse? Or we can set a mptag on the character to prevent them from gathering too many of the pops within a particular online connection time like apples of life … can you level a character to an apple farming level faster than the tag rots off? Can you farm apples on your tinkering gnomes and rotate through them to maximize the apples gathered without missing ip8 tinker times?

For mob farming the fact is that after so many kills it gets boring. Once you’ve developed a strategy that works well and are able to repeat it without fail then scripting makes sense … Now, if you’re already at this point and bored with the mob, why would you want to split the gear and increase your kill totals by taking someone else if you can use multiple characters – either directly by being ip+ or indirectly by killing for a while on one, then logging out and loading the next mirror image of that character in to overcome things like equipment damage or ridiculous numbers of heals and so on. I’m not even really pointing to mobs that you’d sell the gear from, this is stuff you’re trying to get for yourself. The rarer the item with the desirable properties is though the more the motivation to perfect this and sell the items. Or you can make the mob ip1 and keep the rare pop rate until people decide that a harder run with a better rate is more worthwhile. Why run Cato when it’s a lesser time investment to get a Veil of Divine Wrath than a Catastrophe for the same number of runners? Especially when it seems that Seth’s Fortress is a far smoother and more perfectible run than Cato’s randomness allows.

Builders have begun to address this issue … I’ll note the Shadowstalker and the barbarian neckwear: SS provides an item that is used to manufacture the neckwear in the alignment you desire, yet no comprehensive effort has been observed to revamp some of the older areas to keep them relevant, often the effort required to get a small improvement is simply not deemed worthwhile by many players… why get the Nevermore neckwear which is modestly better than devout scales when the scales are so much easier to get?

To briefly address the repeatable actions comment, at one point we had armies of clerics brewing heal potions en masse. This was very profitable since flasks were about 4k coins each and heals could be sold at 10k each. To remove the motivation for doing this empty flask prices were brought in line with the store bought heal prices. When all the profit went away, so did the motivation for these armies, but there are other player generated consumables that continue to encourage armies, at least some of which could be sold from shopkeepers and provide, if nothing else, a minor gold sink … of course zomg you can’t sell demonskin potions in Darkhaven rabble rabble hurp durp.

So up to this point I’ve provided some motivation for the armies … which is one of the causes of spam leveling. I think it’s fair to say that army owners don’t care at all about how the characters level, so long as they level. They’re interested in the end result only a character of appropriate level for their farming (note: not all farming needs to be done by avatars!) This is only a part of the demand … and I argue it’s not even the majority of the demand, but I wanted to try to provide a comprehensive overview of this issue.

Why does the AVERAGE player buy into and provide demand for leveling? The simplest explanation is the quest for better character bases. Re-rolling is linked here but I’m going to avoid that conversation for the moment – let’s say that for now, if you invest the time you can get the ——-> stats <——- you want, though perhaps for particularly hard to roll combinations you need to go to extreme measures including but not limited to distributed re-rolling (to avoid ip spoofing) or even directly to ip spoofing for re-rolling to actually pull it off (“perfect” based half orc or half ogre vampires anyone?). Of course that’s the easy part isn’t it? It’s the base after leveling that motivates people to keep trying for yet another character.

My experience is that the average gain per level needs only fluctuate a tiny amount to have a major impact on the avatar bases. Let’s think about a thief’s hit points since this is one of the prime examples. Per level your gain is 12-17 hit points meaning a theoretical range of 608-853 which averages to 731. Now … an average based thief is in the 720-730 range but an exceptional one is in the 750’s. To be fair I have heard of exceptionally few thieves in the 600s or the 800s. It is clear that leveling trends towards the midpoint by design.

If you average 14 hit points per gain you will get a character with a base around 700. If you average 15 it goes up to around 750. So it is also clear that it’s a very sensitive thing that any ham-fisted changes will unbalance things.

Next it is important to say that a 700 hp base thief is entirely playable, but to make those 50 hp up would be a substantial investment in glory or require a trade off in equipment. An example of such a trade off would be changing out 2 Collar of Abyssal Servitude for 2 scales of the alpha and omega. Of course, since people expect to see the 4 luck from CAS’ in the builds, the other thief equipment choices become restricted and the motivation for an 18 luck base is only increased. These options are really fallacies however and they have been espoused for so very long without a real justification that they are, in my opinion, absurdities. In both cases I can level a new character and see an immediate and often substantial gain. Every ounce of effort I put into overcoming a bad base with equipment or glory can be put on a better based character to keep the gap alive.

Let’s pause here and say that some of thing things that influence bases are not random. They are also not reported to you while you’re leveling but many of them are common knowledge. You have to max your con. As far as I know that’s the only officially listed in a help file advice you’ll find. Next is that you want to have good luck … statistic, not fortune … but … some claim that 19 luck seems to go better than 20, some say it doesn’t matter at all. You want to try to avoid having all the leveling spells on at once. Stoneheft’s said as much on channels that maxing your stats by equipment instead of the spells gives you a better chance. Does having sanctuary on penalize you? What other spells might cause a penalty? Is the Blessing of Thoric killing my low level hit point gains since I made efforts to get lots of level 2 con gear? Does killing the same mob too many times in a row bestow a penalty? Does wearing gear that is far below your level penalize you outside of making killing things harder? Does being ip+ globally hurt you? Are my guild bots killing my level gains? Having too many characters in the same room on the same ip hurts experience gain, but does it kill my hit point gains too? The only answer you get when you try to investigate these questions are “you do not have a sufficient sample size to be able to understand it”. So be it, we overcome randomness with high sampling. That’s science folks, no more magic hand wavy pretend statistics. We may still come to wrong conclusions because of an incomplete understanding but we’ll get much closer than we have before with data. With scripting most of the variables that we can control are held in check and even with laws scripting it is clear that ATTENDED scripting will continue as it always has.

Ok, so we’re almost getting ranty again. Time to change the channels. Whether you think the base on a character is important or not is irrelevant. Enough people do think so who create a demand for mass character creations.

*click* On this channel are a few ideas of how we can help tame the motivation side of the equation. If we want to alter behavior we can probably best achieve this by acknowledging the motivations and seeing if there are acceptable changes and yet still maintain some variability between characters and some “risk” element to leveling. Many games do not consider hit point bases as something that should be variable between characters, level playing field and all, that the player’s actions should earn them the advantages instead of some arbitrary factor. I happen to agree with that sentiment but it is not my decision to make on Realms and I will only mention it here in the event that someone who does make such decisions may consider it. It’s interesting to note that even if everyone’s bases were exactly the same that it would still be a monumental task to accumulate even the most popular collection of characters … a few mages, a couple clerics, a couple thieves, a few barbs, a warrior or two, a paladin, a nephandi, a fathomer maybe an auggie, a druid, a few rangers and a couple vamps … never mind a complete army that takes having coverage in most races and alignments into account.

Ok so let’s address some of the points I made earlier and while I am looking at this as a “big bad avatar” to borrow Loril’s turn of phrase, I will use my experience as a Newbie Councillor under Julie and Sarah back in the day to try to help flavor my solutions as being neutral or in favor of the one new player trying to make their character.

Reducing the motivation to level for other people can be achieved by making it less profitable. This will hit the golders who use mobs like crab guards but the solution is to level out the gold across pre-avatar mobs so that there is no great motivation to fixate on mobs that give both good experience and good gold. Why in the heck wouldn’t you hit crab guards while leveling except for competition? There are what? 17 of them at 100k gold each per repop? Well, duh. Toss in the eels and you can crack 2m per repop in an area that turns over rapidly. My argument here is not that the guards need to have their gold or experience downed but that it is the disparity between these guys and clearing out (let’s say) the entire area of Sentinel that puts pressure on Coral Depths and causes conflict between characters focused on the same area. I suggest that a comprehensive revamp of areas targeted towards levelers be done, with an analysis of things like xp per hour — the sorts of analysis that is now utterly common in all sorts of games (Diablo comes to mind). Players can start this analysis but only an immortal review by expert builders can give a true picture — and if done by immortals the analysis can be done by an automated script that looks at the area files themselves and applies knowledge about the experience gain formulas.

Ok. So that’s part of the project and it will help with the next point about the repetitiveness and tediousness of leveling. I would be able to go check out new areas without feeling penalized for it and while there will always, always, always be “optimal routes” you will have to invest time and effort to find them and your reward will be faster leveling. Many people will simple not expend that effort and will investigate areas more freely. The question “where is the best spot to level” will be asked, but will be less relevant. Right now there is a disparity between the right areas and the wrong areas that could result in a 100 hour difference between a new an experienced player creating a single character … and the new player probably won’t be happy with their character in the long time when they get told their base stinks (more on this later, since that’s an age old complaint!). So that’s a part of the tedious equation but the fact is that not everyone likes to explore and further that ultimately builders can only produce so many areas before “it’s all been done before”.

The second part of reducing the tedium can also be tied into some of the other comments I’ve made. Some experiments have been made with automated questing on Realms to varying degrees of success. Some of the quest provide a nifty leveling item, often owner tagged, or some amount of experience. Both of these are great rewards and nothing I’m about to suggest should take away from the continued growth of these quests though I suggest that they be a little more tied together so that achieving some of them eliminates others. The current quests are very hardly variable at all. There are a very limited number of permutations that once accounted for encourages automation. To utterly randomly generate such quests removes too much control from the builder and can introduce ridiculous combinations yet to build any substantial amount of quests by hand is a daunting task as well. The solution here is a permutation engine where a builder can provide sets of items to be permuted. Choosing 2 items from a set of 6 where the order is important and repetitions are not allowed produces 30 combinations. So … you can tell a character to go retrieve item 1, ah good you’ve got it, go get item 2 30 different ways with only a variety of 6 items … and if you set up your programs smartly so that the item is NOT a stock Realms item but can only be obtained by a mob that reads your mptags you can also vary the mob that people retrieve it from. If there are 3 potential mobs that these 6 items might come from then suddenly you have 90 potential quests. If you want to overcome enumeration you do it by overwhelming options. Math FTW. What sorts of rewards might make this level of questing worthwhile?? I would utterly ignore such a system that ONLY provided experience or a leveling item. Glory is inappropriate as a reward during leveling, perhaps. Why not have some of these quests trigger when a player has a sub-par hit point/mana/movement gain and allow them to make up some of the missed opportunity? Remedial leveling? Holey moley, better bases through interesting dynamic content instead of repetitive combat of the RNG. Will you have to work for it? Darn right you will! Will you be rewarded? Sure will! So uhm, how to prevent abuse of it? Well, maybe you lose the opportunity to regain the lost hit points (whatever) when you hit your next level? That is, you can’t simply blow through the levels as fast as you can and then go do a bunch of quests to make it up. You have to go level by level BUILDING YOUR CHARACTER … holy craphats Batman! Imagine also applying this to stats so that people could do remedial work on their stats and consider how this might help remove some of the reroll motivations.

I said earlier that nothing you gain while leveling is worth keeping at avatar. I stand by that. You could av and dt and not even feel a pinch because it’s a free recall. Now take what I’ve proposed about questing into account. Not every quest has to be for remediation … what if some of the quests helped you build up an item that was useful to you from level 2 to 50? When you hit avatar you actually had gear that was useful for joining in runs and going to earn more, better gear? What if after 49 levels at least one item was worth keeping even if you joined a great Guild that ran all the time and could GIVE you great gear? What might that item look like? Could it look different for EVERY PLAYER based on the choices they made? Is it a way to fix bases without actually adjusting the person’s base? A permanent object maybe? Certainly at least owner tagged … well… I hope you’re getting the idea here.

I make no comment on having a variety of characters or building an army. I think these are avatar issues that put pressure on the leveling problem but ultimately aren’t the cause. Likewise the farming issue is part of this demand but a thorough review of the areas can address a great deal of this and really, should be addressed separately but people should be aware that no matter what anti farming practice you put into place it can likely be circumvented by overwhelming numbers of characters.

Maybe the quest system idea is way too far out to get an immediate result. Let’s try something simple – remove the minimum gains from characters except as a penalty. It will not raise the maximum achievable bases but will modestly move the lower end towards the average and make some average a bit better. A string of 12’s and 13’s on these thieves is really discouraging and feels like a penalty for getting good gains otherwise … if I see a 17 I almost smell the 12’s coming as the algorithm tries to massage me back towards the average.

I’ve argued why I believe bases are one of the major motivating factors. You can feel free to disagree but the fact is enough people believe it to create a demand that is increasingly being capitalized on by the clever.

I also assert that though there is absolutely no intention on my part to suggest that every possible penalty towards level gains needs to be exposed to the Realms community so that we can optimize our leveling behavior, it is clear that whatever changes are made need to encourage the behaviors that give better results or to allow us to be aware of what is penalty and why is poor gain (simple example … have the mob in the Halls of Training tsk and you and tell you that the aura of magic surrounding you is so heavy that it is no wonder the fates can hardly reward you … or whatever … just to hint that wearing all leveling spells is bad).

Ok guys and gals, I’ve been typing for hours now and I’m sure you’re all sick of reading. I’m not telling anyone what to do. Maybe there are good reasons why a lot of this won’t work. I openly admit I might have my head up my ass on a ton of this stuff, but in a fairly straightforward way I’ve tried to present the problem as I see it and attempted to address both leveling and re-rolling together. I hope that we can have constructive discussions around this topic, I have no energy left for any whining however.

If you just want to piss and moan, go pound salt.  Don Quixote has left the building.

Ever stop to level a character to level 5 and lose 3 days?

For the past few days I’ve been in Wendle Mansion on a couple of lowbies, learning the heck out of the area and driving Romani pretty well nuts with my on going tells as some parts of the area drive me strange with frustration :-> ¬†To be fair, she’s tight lipped, I didn’t really expect her to share too, too much as I know she takes her immortal duties very seriously.

I originally visited the area to obtain a cloak of spirits, a lowbie body wear with con on it for rogues and aberrants so that I could get my level 2 thieves to level 5 and slow the autodelete timer.  As I got to looking around the area I found a number of interesting programs and the heart of Lord Wendle that sort of sucked me into the story line of this haunted mansion.

In many ways the area reminds me strongly of the Shining with the blood appearing at night and disappearing through the day, whispering warnings to you and so forth. Romani certainly captured the atmosphere right down to the idea of the ghosts tormenting the house guests to insanity … though that’s more from the book than the movie adaption.

The GOOD

An excellent little levelling area it’s got a good story line that draws you further into the area. It relies on a number of easily found skills like search and dig to get you through the area, though there is a spot you can adept mount if you’re paying attention. (Minor spoiler ahead) I didn’t realize that you could search in a container on the ground, so after all these years I learned something new which finally answered the question of where the skull-bone mask comes from.

A few useful levelling items all in a small spot with a quick repop (as low as 8 minutes from time to time). It’s possible to get most of the puzzles solved without fighting, which is helpful since most of the items in the area stop popping once you hit level 10. This makes farming trickier but not impossible when you’re hunting for the level 2 versions.

If you pay close attention to extra descriptions and hang out in rooms to wait for programs and read everything that’s said, it does prod you along towards your goal.

The BAD

There are a couple of things I’ve come to loathe thanks to this area, or maybe I always did and this area reminded me of how much I hate them.

Oh my god I’ve come to hate waiting 30 minutes for a mud day to cycle. When you’re trying to figure out a puzzle whose triggers are midnight in almost every hot spot you only get to try one thing per half hour. That’s a half hour you’re not leveling because you’re worried that maybe you’re going to become too high a level for the puzzles. You’re standing in the next spot eating mushrooms out of a chest and drinking off your dragonskin waiting for 30 minutes in case there’s a program in the room that fires off. Of course you could start a lowbie army and sit in several spots at once but that does sort of defeat the idea of a real new player experience right? I mean that’s a big bad avatar approach …

I had been thinking of using this technique in my building but I’m right off it now. Either that or there needs to be more going on … I can live with ALL NIGHT something’s happening in the area and at MIDNIGHT something special happens in a part of it, but to have to be in 2 different spots (at least) at once means a lot of sitting idle logging the room.

The only other critique I’ll throw on this is that it’s not at all clear if I’ve finished the area or not. I found and fought a beast that looks like the end dude and received the items that other old Cry of Despair articles point to … but … did I break the curse or not? Should I have idled more in that last room I got to?

And what was up with Sarah in the shed? I spotted her there once, and now I can’t for the life of me seem to get her to appear again, even though I’ve moved to a different character… I’m wondering if she only appears to higher level characters now because my first time through was on a higher lowbie.

So there are a few things left to figure out. Romani did a great job on this area my personal frustrations aside ūüôā I will certainly revisit it and try to figure the rest out, there can’t be a ton left :> If you’ve never been, it’s a great way to learn how to explore. ¬†Until next time!

It *is* a journey, not a destination! :)

I have said this once prior in this blog but my experiences this time around with the Realms of Despair is very much about the journey. ¬†I’m not sure I’m setting out to keep this in mind but it has been floating to the surface of my thoughts regularly of late.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading of reviews and other user sites about the Realms, trying to get a feel for what’s been going on over the last few years, to understand with more depth about where we are.

Some themes appear over and over and I’ve been trying to give them some thought. ¬†I don’t expect to wave a wand and fix anything but I’d like to be part of the solution, not the problem. ¬†Some of these beefs pre-date the Shattering and I’m certain there are no simple, satisfactory fixes that will respect the near 20 years of Realms history and open a new future.

Text-Based Game

I come from the world of BBSing, so my own migration from text based games to text based MUDs was seamless. ¬†I know that this is a hurdle for some, however. ¬†With that said, familiarity with technology, texting, Facebook, email, etc, has never been higher. ¬†I don’t think that the game¬†necessarily¬†needs to be graphical to succeed, but there certainly needs to be an improvement in what is available client wise.

Returning to Realms one of the biggest challenges, after using the Java client was just getting Zmud or Cmud to keep me online reliably. ¬†It turns out that this is mostly the fault of changes to Windows over the years but if this is the new reality then the client should just deal with this¬†aggravation¬†free… New users won’t have tolerance to this.

Especially when it turns out turning on the tick timer does the job of a keep alive just fine. ¬†This is a lot better than setting up an alarm to save every 60 seconds for the simple reason that it doesn’t force the server to save your character to the hard drive over and over… less wear and tear on server hardware = good since we don’t have to pay to replace it. ¬†It’s also less spammy than using look or glance or whatever.

I didn’t talk about MUSHclient or Gmud but I think¬†I’ll talk about clients another time in more detail but I think this makes clear the case that there’s issues that can be addressed.

So even back in the day I was actively playing things like Heroes of Might and Magic, Diablo, Warcraft… ¬†I have always thought that Realms would be incredible graphically based. ¬†I think that there is tremendous potential for people to participate in using MSDP to improve the interface to the game even without eliminating the text based nature, without straining the server and without having to recruit a literal army of artists.

Baby steps! ūüôā

Pre-Avatar Play (Levelling)

In every game I play levelling is a challenge. ¬†In the games where you need to have multiple characters the word tedious usually floats up eventually. ¬†If you don’t think so go check out the QQ on the Blizzard Diablo 3 forums where there are only 5 character classes. ¬†Levelling the character to max level (60) means running through the full game 3-4 times (by the end of Hell Act 3 you’re probably done, but you can’t hit anything big until you get at least that far in Inferno). ¬†I can do it in about 12-18 hours per character depending on the character class because I took on playing hardcore mode for fun (1 death, death is permanent) but there are wide zones of levels that are just boring grinding because there is no new content. ¬†This doesn’t include the 100 levels of post level 60 grinding (more later).

So what does this have to do with Realms? ¬†I remember my first time levelling, it was Tharius the half-elf ranger, sort of based on Tanis from the Dragonlance series. ¬†I did have a bit of an advantage, I could use my friend’s avatar ranger Daltorak to follow me around invis and cast cure on me. ¬†No levelling spell bots, no major cleric army but still it was ahead of the curve ūüôā

I enjoyed the experience because everything was new and exciting.  I learned how to use my character, how to fight, how to die, how to CR by myself and so much more.

I think I applied to the Newbie Council around level 15 and got pointed instead to the Guild of Rangers.  Some of the items on my induction quest were above my level so I had to get to know other guild members to help keep them, another lesson quickly learned!  There were lots of helpful people around, people like Lopuis, Apollonia, Linda and many others.

I let myself get caught up in the idea that there were “levelling areas” and that I should get to avatar as quickly as I can so I can go on the big runs.

This discouraged me from exploring and instead I really stuck to the list of areas that people told me were the best for experience, unless I needed to side track to get a new piece of equipment. ¬†Many of those areas are still used today … Shattered Refuge, Tull Manor, Treetops, Coral Depths, Ocean Keep, Spectrum … I would encourage new players not to buy into this idea of hitting avatar as quick as you can. ¬†Loosing experience and having to eat and drink are all regular bothers, but the odds are, once you hit avatar you won’t ever put the same level of interest into levelling another character again. ¬†So explore a little … there are many new areas that are tailored to lower level players, especially below level 20.

Levelling secondary characters (alts) is part of this game. ¬†I agree that you cannot defeat all the different mobs of the game with a single character. ¬†I have never seen Seth run with a group of rangers, for example, rangers just don’t dish out enough damage quickly enough. ¬†They make superb tanks on other runs however. ¬†Everyone is allowed to have many characters and to play with their advantages and disadvantages accordingly.

As a new player I’d say it’s nearly impossible to make a good choice about class and stats right out of the gate. ¬†Tharius’ base stats still plague me to this day ūüôā ¬†I think that the help that’s available is better than it was in the past, but I’m sure that people still roll mediocre bases. ¬†Here’s something I believe to be true: a mediocre base will not stop you from running anything and may even improve your ability as a player. ¬†There is no doubt I’d rather play a 18 str/18 dex/18 luck thief on most runs but there is no chance that I’m not going to use whatever thieves I have in my stables regardless of their base. ¬†I’ll make it work, even if it takes levelling spells or whatnot. ¬†Yes, 100 extra hit points on your base helps. ¬†14 strength on a warrior class is sometimes tough to work with. ¬†Don’t let it stop you from doing anything you want to. ¬†Pre-shattering I had added 2 strength to a Dragonhide Breastplate just to get over the problem for once and all. ¬†There’s always solutions. ¬†Maybe that glory would have been better spent adding hit points for a character that didn’t have a stat problem, but in my view I was doing the best I can with my character and I wasn’t worrying about your character having more hit points than I do.

Sit back and make the most of whatever you create. ¬†If you’re lucky enough to find advice before you get very far into the game or if you’re lucky enough to roll good bases right off the bat, fantastic. ¬†Reroll is there to be used. ¬†If not, accept it as a challenge and deal with it ūüôā ¬†If you only compete against yourself I believe you will be much happier in the long run on or off Realms. ¬†You can certainly look at your first character as a throw-away if you choose, a waste of time even if you really want to be callous about it … or you can acknowledge how much you learned in 50 levels and apply that to your future¬†endeavors.

Post-Avatar Play (End Game)

So this is all pretty well advice I didn’t pay any attention to. ¬†It didn’t take long before I was trying to¬†accumulate¬†gold to buy big items I couldn’t run for. ¬†I’ll note that this is years before many of the helpful web sites were up to teach the soloable mobs, maps, directions and so on. Doing a run like Cern was an accomplishment, torques were not bad equipment. ¬†Working your way up to devout scales of the alpha and omega ¬†was an accomplishment (if you didn’t just outright buy them) … Buy them you say? ¬†Yes, because not only was levelling a “pain” but now there were runs that were “just a pain in the ass” … you know because you might have to do them a bunch of times to get the pop item…

For a new avatar the odds are this encounter is happening in a guild, which was my experience.  Experienced players, why would you want to discourage anyone from running anything?  Where does the next generation of good runners come from?  This, if for no other reason, is why you should help out in a guild and lead runs to mobs instead of teaching how to use auction and traffic.

Yes of course, if you’re an active player after you’ve av’d the odds are pretty good you’ll have run many of the lower avatar mobs many times but … really? ¬†You can’t go whack Bahamut or Justice for a while?

I enjoyed running with the Guild of Rangers as a newbie and probably even moreso as an experienced player with the Guild of Druids.

New players … my advice is to enjoy the growth curve. ¬†As you get further into the game amount of effort required for each improvement certainly goes way up. ¬†Maybe too much … but it’s a very fine line balancing a game like this and I won’t disparage the efforts of those who have worked hard to tune the game. ¬†They’ve dealt with all the challenges that mortals have thrown at them for years and many of the changes are to respond to particular problems.

Eventually you get to a state where you really need to rely on others. ¬†When the game is active that’s not so bad but right now it takes careful planning to get groups together. ¬†Hopefully things rebound and it gets easier again. ¬†Right now there’s the challenge of getting groups together so the “big mobs” aren’t being run much, so people want to have the mobs downed so that they can run them again. ¬†Then they’ll get spammed and need to be upped again … instead let’s work on getting anyone who wants to run some better skills ūüôā

So now what if you’re one of those experienced players? ¬†What is your end game? ¬†For most, it’s chatting and trying to hoard gold or glory or Seth sets or something. ¬†Here’s the devil … the end game is whatever goal you set for yourself. ¬†An open ended game like this always faces a problem with the top tier players, how do we fix it? ¬†It used to be that the top players moved from PVM to PVP … ie: pkill. ¬†With pkill at least you are always facing an evolving opponent, but it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea … which is why you set your own goals. ¬†For me, I like to go out and try to beat every area, create maps, stuff like that. ¬†Try your hand at building? ¬†It’s never been easier. ¬†Submit a quest? ¬†It’s up to you. ¬†I would LOVE to hear some opinions on more ongoing activities that could be added into RoD. ¬†I hear a lot of “quest for base increase” type ideas … but we sort of had this, it was stat-training, it went away for reasons that could probably use repeating. ¬†I hear about more levels … well that hasn’t worked so well in Diablo 3 (100 new levels) … it becomes a grind. ¬†I think there’s great potential using mptagging to create some longer term story lines and huge ongoing quests to help fill the game with more adventure but it shouldn’t feel mandatory yet it has to have a reward of some sort. ¬†I hope to have more opportunity to discuss this with people interested in making it happen.

The Economy

First off let me say that I tend to ignore the economy as much as I possibly can. ¬†I do this by trying to run for things that I want. ¬†Yet, I acknowledge that this isn’t always going to work out. ¬†Gold is worthless. ¬†It’s been the chanted creed since before the Shattering, you can always farm more gold… always… ¬†Yes, you can¬†accumulate¬†a mountain of it but the best use of it is for buying flasks for brewing so you can go adventure. ¬†This comes back to the idea that buying your equipment instead of running for it removes hours of content from the game … Ok well, yes, the reality is that buy, sell and trade are perfectly legitimate ways of gaining equipment … but if it’s your primary mode, haven’t you missed something?

Ok well, rant mode off, this is something that could be improved nonetheless. ¬†Outlets need to exist for lower level players to make more incremental gains. ¬†I like the idea of craftable objects a lot. ¬†In Diablo 2 this was a major end game outlet for a lot of players. ¬†As a mid-level Hammerdin I was able to trade with elite players because perfect gems were a currency. ¬†I had to adventure to get them (as did they) and they needed lots to create new items for their various elite builds. ¬†I think this is something that can be brought into realms wholesale. ¬†Ravenhill proved it works with Seth sets, I think it can be done at differing levels to provide a lot of stimulus. ¬†Why run Bahamut once you’ve got a bunch of Justices? ¬†Break his equipment down at the blacksmith for components. ¬†Of course the rate of return shouldn’t be 1:1 or what’s the point …. again an idea that I’d love to help develop.

 

Well this has gone far longer than I intended to, I think there are a lot of ways to stimulate the the game without losing the challenge. ¬†Let’s work together! ūüôā