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Kickstarter goals and leveling concerns

I'm going to commit what I think is a bit of a writing sin: a single post about two different topics! Ooph. Alrighty, here we go ...

(1) Kickstarter stretch goals

We keep hitting more and more stretch goals, which is fantastic! But I always wonder why stretch goals include new content rather than something like, "We will hire additional staff to push development faster and release sooner." Although I'm sure there are examples out there, I struggle to think of a game that went through crowd funding with stretch goals and then released with all of the stretch goals implemented. At the worse end of the spectrum, I think about Star Citizen -- a game with severe scope issues that has been in development purgatory for years. As a result, I struggle to get tooooo hyped about all the new features because they're still imaginary and far away in the future.

(2) Level-based progression and Node system

A completely separate thing I wondered about ... how will the level-based progression mesh with the node system? In all the level-based games I have played, characters explore a zone until they outlevel it then move on, rarely to return. Under the node system, that means that although many zones will never really have a chance to develop. The low-level and mid-level zones just won't have a reason to retain people, so the nodes will never grow and civilization will never really develop there. That also means that the location of higher-tier cities will be all but certain: high-level zones where players are most likely to spend the greatest amount of their time in the end. When I think World of Warcraft, for example, there would never be any likelihood of a massive capital city sprouting up in the Barrens.

Now, one possibility is that the enemies always scale with you and levels are just about unlocking new abilities (rather than powering up in a linear, stat-based way). But while that might solve the combat-oriented issue with levels, what about the crafting resource issue? If low-level materials become obsolete as a crafter's skill grows, then harvesters will naturally end up spending most of their time in the zones with the highest-tier resources. Again, for the same reason ... once you "outlevel" the smaller stuff, you never return, so zones with lower and mid-level resources just see people passing through on the path of progression.

Comments

  • 1. The thing about putting "hire additional staff" and "decrease production time" is that you can't easily guarantee those. For example, what if there aren't any people with the required skills to hire? You've then promised something you can't fulfil.

    2. As nodes level up so do the Zones of Influence around them, meaning that the more people invest in a particular node, the more higher level content will become available to them. Also since resources in each Area will be limited it is unlikely that the world will stay completely static for long. At least, that is the idea. Whether they can execute it is another matter entirely.
  • 1. I also believe that probably wants to start with pretty specific time lengths for alpha and beta phases. They want to give themselves plenty of room to deal with difficult things. Much of what they are trying to do is not really new concept but it has almost always been too difficult to translate to workable MMO feature status. Meaning that is why it has been attempted and has always come out as garbage. They have set their sights pretty high. They will need every bit of time just to get their core concepts in and working right. I am doubtful that a cpl extra pairs of hands will make a big difference in Time to Completion...

    2. Pretty much everything we do in a Node is supposed to add to that Node's experience total. Nodes that level will generate more and more difficulty "events" or content our whatever we want to call it.

    That does seem to be contradictory in a way. If nodes progress and get more "high level content" then will that mean that new players will have to go further and further out to find appropriate content for themselves?
  • Indeed Bringslite, that was my worry. Level-based games tie the content to the level, so certain areas are fit for certain level ranges. And once you leave that level range, you never have a reason to go back. Yet the node system seems to imagine that people will congregate to a zone because they like how it looks, or how it's designed, or where it's located, such that areas will develop civilization just because the players on that server really like that particular zone. Nodes anticipate players will spend a lot of time in the zones they *want* to spend time in, rather than ones they *have* to spend time in because of their level.
  • Great questions! I am going to split up my answers just like you asked them. I just typed a very extensive response to this and then lost it somehow so this will be a shortened down version.

    1. I believe that most of the money is going to hiring staff. They have stated that they are hiring about 10 new members and that they plan to hire another 10 or so in the near future. They have reinforced the fact that they will hit their deadline and the only way to add more content and still meet that is to hire more staff. Money is a great incentive, but it can't create time. How I'm look at it is whatever goals are met, I trust it will be in the release at the date they set and whatever goal is not met will be added to the game later. (This has been confirmed by them through discord btw).

    2. This is a really good question and I am not sure regarding the enemies, but for materials I think they every type of material available in that node (wood in forest, metals in cave, and herbs in fields) will be available in every level range. To clarify, if you can find wood in your node, you can find the best and the worst. Maybe you need certain high level equipment to get that high level material or maybe it is just rarer( hate to do it, but kinda like minecraft?). Anyways, this is just my idea, but it would be great if this questions got asked on a future stream.
  • If I understand it correctly, an answer Stephen gave in an impromptu Q&A on discord recently stated that nodes would start at a base line for content and each time the node levels it adds higher level content. So Metros, which will be large areas, will have content all across the spectrum. Players of all levels will find content to do in those nodes.
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