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Off the record video with Paul Sage

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EDIT, someone has written the full interview up on Duffy.net which I recommend reading instead of my post below as mine only covers the first 45 mins




Been listening to the 2 and a half hr video here (skip over first 5 mins or you'll not want to listen to the rest as they are advertising their web site and sound like 3 year olds) 

Very interesting stuff, am typing some of it up as I listen, here's some of the first 45 mins, not sure I will type up any more, who knows.
at 5:20 mins What I've been playing this week (Coming in Update 4)
Coming in Update 4 we have content called Dragon Star (or style cant make it out) Arena
Dragon Star arena is in the next part of Craglorn and is a little like trials but it is for a group of 4
So you have these different waves that come out, there's an announcer that announces how you guys are doing, he taunts you if your group doesn't do too well
It is PvE and it's pretty difficult and that's putting it mildly, but even when you don't get through it, its still al lot of fun.
It will have leader boards
At 10:46 mins, Plans for a PvP arena
Let me give you the honest answer on that one, when we look at things that the teams are working on, we have different teams and even within a team, different sub teams working on different projects.
Right now our PvP experts are working on Imperial City, I don't think that's a big secret, we've talked about it a little bit and that's this big dungeon where you have to win ownership of that area.
It's a really big task to get that out.
But we have been showing a 3x3x3 map that was really meant to be just for the trade shows, we've got a lot of good responses on it 
The trick really is, making sure anything we introduce with a battlefield/battle ground or whatever you want to call it, doesn't interfere with Cyrodiil, and we have to be really careful about that, and make sure anything we introduce along those lines is something that really attracts players to both.
So it's a pretty hard challenge, it's definitely something we have been talking about, we were surprised at how easy the 3x3x3 was to create and how much fun people had with it so hopefully we will see something like that in the future.
Interviewer: Any plans to introduce a single player 1 on 1 arena similar to Oblivion.
Paul: Definitely something we have mauled over, but right now we are working really hard on the social part of the game and getting people to play together more and more, but fear not we are also working on another zone or two that is really similar to the 1 - 50 experience (we will talk morel about this at Quakecon)
This is the last planned update to Craglorn I'm aware of.
24:40 mins Vet content
The point comes when you have to talk frankly and openly and engage the community with what they are seeing
Our hope for the veteran rank system when it was first put out was that there was a system that you would gain veteran ranks and it would be a way for us to gate items so that there would always be a fun item chase, fun item rewards etc but also behind the scenes when we originally designed it, we had a thing called seasons so that a season ends and you would start either new levels or a new veteran rank season, starting at 1 again
But that whole system simply didn't have enough rewards in the cycle for what we really wanted to do, there wasn't enough of a moment to moment reward.There's nothing that's a predictable "This is what I'm working towards"
Thats not what we really wanted out of the system
One of the other things when we're talking to players and getting their feedback, there's this divide of what is challenging and what is difficult.
For some people there's a level of challenge that they really enjoy, to use another game, those people that love Dark Souls or Dark Souls 2, and there's a level of challenge that a lot of people really like.
Now there's a large number of people who don't really like that level of challenge and that level of difficulty, and so what we looked at was from a 1 - 50 experience, that ramp up in difficulty just kind of hits you really hard, so what we said is we have a lot in the game where we have difficulty , trials and other things, 
For those people who went through the 1 - 50 experience we've really got to make sure that when they get to Veteran, the alternate Alliance zones, they are still in a mode where they are having fun.
So we're going in and looking very honestly at the veteran content and there;s a lot of things falling short of what we really wanted to do.And so we're going through these phases and we are systematically addressing those things. So the first phase we have already done and that was to lower the difficulty a bit.
It wasn't to dumb everything down, it was to make sure the experience was more consistent and players felt like they could do it, because if your trying to get people to group in those later zones and people are like "I just don't want to group" they still want that same experience.
We had to be very conscientious about that, we understand some people felt we just took away the challenge they liked, but we have something for them, and in the future we have something for them that is really going to make them happy.
And secondarily what we are looking at is, when your talking about veteran system, your looking at veteran points, and a lot of people are like "Whats a veteran point, why not just use experience" and we thought, yes, why not just use experience so we are getting to the point where we are going to start introducing the way you go through veteran ranks is to gain experience and all this is laying the framework and groundwork for this new system coming in as a replacement
at the 30mins mark, Vet content changes
The champion system which is whats going to replace the vet system is going to be a system whereby your constantly adding points to certain passives, your going to increase your characters viability
Lets say you want to increase your critical hit or spell defence or something , you'll add percentage that will increase those ratings.
That means your improving your character persistently in a way that you really like, it will be a system that will be sensible enough that it goes on for years,  but is rewarding enough that you will want to keep investing in those points
Further more it will be account wide so once you opened up the champion rank, once you've hit 50 you'll be able to take those points and apply them to your other characters.  If you put points into one character, those points are still available for another character  (at level 50).
And there will be a built in respec and that respec will be straight forward and easy to get.
We want this to be an experimental system as in the players can experiment with it and its a lot of fun
So that's the goal, to have a vet system where people are constantly rewarded 
Our goal is to have a cadence system where if your out not doing anything special, it will be about an hour you will have to put in and you'll get one of these points.
Thats kind of what this systems about, there's more to do with itemization as well, but I'll get into that later.
36:35 mins  Phase 2
It's really hard to predict these things, I don't want to make any guarantees,  I would expect phase 2 to come in around update 4, it's hard to know, you have to get all these things tested
PvP will earn XP at a better rate, we want people to play how they want to play. I want to make sure that when your out there PvPing your still getting gains on this system. I know there's going to be some questions about can people farm this a little bit easier in PvP, and that was one of the big things, but we've got some measures that should make it a little harder to farm and we just want those people who are going to play PvP normally to get experience at a really good rate
Interviewer: So at level 10, I can go into PvP and level all the way without ever doing any of the story?
Paul: Absolutely, if that's what you want to do.
42:00 converting Vet XP to normal XP
One of the things we are looking at is, say you have half a vet level, how does that translate exactly, we will try to be as fair as possible, some people might feel like they loose a little, some people might think they gain a little
Interviewer: Whats going to happen to gear thats above level 50 the vet rank gear, how are people going to obtain that gear or is it all being set to 50?
Paul:  When we take away Veteran points, that's not going to take away veteran ranks, its just that veteran points are being associated with normal experience now, so you will gain veteran ranks through experience, it wont affect the itemisation. 
If I may, I saw some questions going by in the chat there and one was "How are we going to handle gear in the champion system".
One of the things and again this isn't set in stone but its one of the things we are looking at which is to have more of gear that is introduced by seasons where there's no level requirement at all
For example, say we re in season 8, season 8 gear will be a little more powerful than season 7 gear but season 7 gear will be much more readily  available. The reason we are looking at this type of system is because we feel there will be less player separation. We will have something called a champion rating which will look at your gear as well as all the points you've spent in the champion system which will give you an idea of whether you can take on certain content or not. 
We want to make sure we don't have a lot of player separation so thats why we are going to make the itemisation have less requirements for equipping the items but still finding those items will be more rare, yes there is a solution to crafting for all those people asking about crafting 
Interviewer: Do you think having the champion rating could create a divide in the community where someone says I want to do that trial wile you but they would say "Well whats your champion rating?"
Paul: Lets hit that head on, I do think it will to some extent which is exactly why the champion rating will be based more on the gear than say the points you put into the champion system and the reason that's important is because the gear  only a season behind  is readily available to everyone causing less of a divide.  We're actually trying to keep people together.  It should be much easier to catch up than it is now.

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So let's see:  make mobs more easy, make your skills more powerful, make grouping even less needed, make crafting even more insignificant than it already is... good grief. 


A word regarding rerwards: considering that at VR1 you could do Vet dungeons and nearly all purple drops were typically VR5-6, we knew there was a problem already with the "rewards."  What did they do? leave that the same and remove even more rewards by reducing the chests available in dungeon settings and the drop rate. Wtf? 


At this point it's becoming a no brainer for me: not re-subbing because I just don't think they have a clue what they are really doing.  Shame.

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This was all discussed at Quakecon yesterday.  I think the monkey-wrench potential that is spell-crafting remains the missing link in this grand plan, especially considering that there was no direct response (and still isn't one forthcoming...) to any questions about the current balancing problems in the game. 

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