Howdy all, my apologies for this being delayed from when originally planned.
The purpose of this post is to give folks a better high level view in where we're at, where we're going, and the goals behind different areas.
Rather than one gigantic post - I am summarizing each section discussed, and a reply for each of those sections will go into more detail. Note: that means this post will stay locked until I've replied with all the detail sections.
Since the release of PvP Seasons in late January - elements of the game have caused continued frustration and, in some cases, confusion as to our goals and purpose.
To provide some transparency and clarity to our goals, where we're at, and where we're going - I would like to take the opportunity to discuss the following topics in this letter.
The overall goal for the creation and introduction of PvP Seasons was to add more depth to the previous system, in the following ways:
- A progression system (Leagues) that allow for a variety of progressively-better rewards to be earned daily, upon rank up in a League, and at the end of the season.
- In addition, we wanted to offer more options in the Honor Shop and to keep some of those options rotating on a season-by-season basis.
- This progression of Leagues was intended to have soft ceilings based on player Level and team power - that we wouldn't restrict Leagues based on level, but that the player would naturally hit a point of end progression based on matchmaking.
- In terms of actual per battle competition - our goal was to focus your choice of opponents based on the League you were in with the ideal being players of similar Level and power.
With the release and subsequent pre-seasons - we've encountered issues, both technically and within how the design has played out with a large population. I will cover the current state of these issues and our intent on how to resolve in the Part 2 reply below specifically around Seasons.
Our continued focus with Seasons is on:
Combat / Hero / Meta Balance
- Continued tuning of matchmaking to ensure fair and fun matches - meaning that there should be a variety of opponents offered within your Level range (generally +/- 4 levels past 40), and that the frequency of a player being offered and attacked is balanced across the League - not as disparate (some with no attacks, and some with too many).
- Re-examining the "soft ceiling" intent - how do we keep Leagues as progression (both in competition and player Level) but not put non-maxxed players in a state where they can't battle or enjoy the system because they have no fair fights. Essentially... stop pushing the player away when they hit such a "soft ceiling".
- League progression remains a challenge, with appropriate rewards for the League you're in, and that you can feasibly reach an end progression point with medium engagement (some raid refreshes, but not excessive) and successful play.
While there have been concerns identified previously with certain heroes and the impact of Runes - this has come into even more focus with the release of PvP Seasons.
The current concerns can be categorized as follows:
- Specific heroes or combination of heroes (synergy or just individually potent) dominate both attack and defense teams.
- That Runes, when stacked towards one Stat (primarily ATK at this point) and that in the current combat system, Rune bonuses (especially at highest tiers, aka Superior) are causing significant balance issues around length of combat (aka one shot teams) or unintended conditions (like 100% damage reduction).
- Both concerns above are exacerbated by current combat formulas that prioritize ATK over other Stats - reducing the actual strategic options of heroes and Rune selection.
Part 3 below will cover the state of these concerns and our current intent on how to resolve.
Our current focus in regards to balance:
Events, Rewards, and Hero progression
- Continue to invigorate, improve, and find a place for existing under-utilized heroes - similar to Monsters, Reptiles, and Beasts recently. This includes focusing on Epics for older heroes over newer heroes.
- Address Runes and systemic balance issues with a significant Combat system tuning revision - damage, how Stats contributes, and how to handle high bonus/stacked Stat values.
- As a last resort, propose and identify changes to existing heroes that cannot be mitigated in the above two initiatives.
- Ensure that any new hero releases don't further contribute to the problem, but rather look to mitigate existing imbalances / strengthen existing weak synergies.
Another area of frustration as identified by you has been event/reward value, reward tuning in other systems such as the Crown Tournament, and inability to make daily progress on the heroes you want to.
The current concerns can be categorized as follows:
- Event quests and activities requiring high amounts of participation with rewards perceived as not valuable for the time or effort invested.
- Changes to rewards - such as removal of one type and converting it to another - that are viewed as significant reduction in value. (e.g. removal of Heroic Summons replaced with a lower Gem value than the direct conversion)
- Availability, or lack there-of, of tokens for many heroes released in the last several months as a daily activity (such as tokens in Dungeons) – requiring lengthy and unpredictable periods of time between opportunities to advance, or only available via Heroic portals or premium offers.
The overall view that these issues engender is a lack of generosity and ability for players to earn meaningful rewards through gameplay that aren’t high cost based.
I’ll cover further details in Part 4 below, specifically around recent and upcoming plans to demonstrate that our goal is for all players to enjoy the game – based on a reasonable level of effort for value.
Our current focus in regards to rewards:
- Ensure that events provide appropriate rewards for the effort/challenge involved – our first demonstrable result was in the recent Beast event and upcoming events this week.
- Be clear about changes in rewards – especially conversion or reduction – as to the reasons before any change takes place so that you have awareness and the opportunity to provide feedback.
- Provide daily opportunities (outside of events) to progress or earn Tokens for the heroes you’re currently interested in developing – in addition, ensure that other avenues such as shops, PWNage and Honor, provide additional variety and use.
- Re-examine portal catalogs (not just Heroic), behavior, and value in an overall effort to ensure that they are regarded as useful and beneficial.
- Examine Aether shop pricing/conversion and offer variety to ensure Aether is a) actually used/spent on desirable offers, and b) fairly priced/converted based on effort/value.
There are a variety of other initiatives in effect as well – and I will endeavor to cover those in the next Producer letter planned for March 16th.
It is our hope that providing a better view into what our plans are – both in transparency and intent (the Why?) – will better provide clarity and reduce confusion/concern.
Ultimately, words are only as good as the actions that follow them. In that regards, we hope that the recent days/week have demonstrated initial action and a clear regard to the feedback that you provide.