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Tarantula

Mordor Dev: Leveling and Difficulty

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This dev interview was linked to on the OF recently:

https://www.lotro.com/en/U21-Level-And-Difficulty

and at the end of that brief 'interview' this is included:

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With increased difficulty, what does this mean for the gear that I already have?

The single biggest chunk of work was redesigning the gear for Mordor. There was a general feeling that we wanted to go back to real gear designs, rather than the almost purely essence driven gear we’d been using for the last couple updates. A piece of armor with 4 essence slots is flexible, certainly, but it’s also a kind of a letdown when you find a great piece of gear in a raid but it’s basically just junk in your backpack until you grind out several high-end essences to put in it.

Essences are still going to be a significant aspect of gearing, but as a % of your stats and in terms of total slots, they’re going down quite a bit. We also decided that the number of slots on your gear should mostly have to do with its rarity – uncommon gear is the baseline in Mordor, and for the most part it doesn’t have essence slots, as we expect players to be working to replace it with shinier stuff pretty quickly. Not much point in trying to grind out essences for a piece of gear you hope to replace in a few days.

So this necessitated coming up with new stat packages for thousands of pieces of gear to be won over the course of Mordor. Because we were taking away some of the flexibility of essences, I created a wide variety of stats for the gear itself, to give players the ability to mix and match their gearing to achieve something close to the stats they want for their particular build.

That was a lot of work. We’re working on polishing up the gear sets and working on their distribution even as we come down to launch. On the plus side, it should make your decisions about gear in Mordor a good bit more interesting and complex than they’ve been in the past few updates.

 

With words one can pretty much justify anything: first when implementing a serious change, and later when removing said serious change.

The implementation of the change was: introducing essence-gear that ultimately could hold 4 essences per piece of armor.

Stepping away from that change: less essence slots and less % of your stats.

 

Let's say here what the above quote doesn't say:

1. We developed essences to be a money maker - solvents, essence removal scrolls

2. Because essence gear is a money maker, we ruined crafting for many years: thou shalt not craft thy own useful gear

3. We made it so that very little non-essence gear was available in game

4. Because we didn't want to give people what they wanted, essences added a major 'end game' grind to the game, including flower picking, flower gear, and flower essences

5. 1.-4. was done with intent

6. We knew that at some point we would make less money, because a. people have maxed out their essences = they need a new grind; and b. when people have maxed out their essences, they no longer buy items listed in 1.

7. We can no longer force the players to grind out 4 new essences/item because they have done that already and don't want to repeat it.  We also can't ask them to continue that grind from level 105 - 115. Therefore, with Mordor, we will introduce new grinds; your old essences become useless; you will grind out: new essences and crafting recipes for new gear/weapons.

 

Here is how they package their justification:

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There was a general feeling that we wanted to go back to real gear designs ...

No, you didn't. Towards the introduction of Mordor, the money stream dried up, because people had made/acquired the best essences they wanted and they started to realize that their essences will be useless once Mordor hits.

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... is flexible, certainly, but it’s also a kind of a letdown when you find ...

How interesting that you now bash your own system, when you have to sell us your newest concoction, and when you ignored the many players who wanted to be able to either a. craft gear (that was good enough for them) or b. asked for simple changes, e.g. the ability to slot a new essence over an already slotted one (or both).

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Essences are still going to be a significant aspect of gearing

Of course, because it's still good money, right!

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Not much point in trying to grind out essences for a piece of gear you hope to replace in a few days.

How noble of you to understand that people weren't going to grind 4 essence/piece on throw away items. But as end-game grind, that grind has to stay intact.

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So this necessitated coming up with new stat packages for thousands of pieces of gear to be won over the course of Mordor.

Boohoo. I trust that balance between the classes will be even more difficult to find once players enter Mordor. This is already evident on BR OF. It is also clear that some older in game items have better stats than new Mordor gear (which can only be obtained after grinding a lot of ash).

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... it should make your decisions about gear in Mordor a good bit more interesting and complex than they’ve been in the past few updates.

It sounds as if you guys have no clue what you are doing with regard to gear at the moment (this is enforced by what Vastin wrote on the OF about a necessary overhaul of the LI system), and therefore, once again, leave it up to the individual players to figure things out. Which we will, no doubt. However, many may/will leave any new essence grind for what it is.

The consequence of having only essence gear to use as a 'baseline' for the new gear seems to be that there is no more baseline.

Don't hide that you don't know what you are doing by saying 'we make your decisions more interesting and complex'.

And once again, you bash your own forced essence grind of the last few years, while attempting to sell us that what you have come up with now will be better.

I trust that the sold Mordor packages + the solvents/removal scrolls you are going to sell will equal if not surpass the past income you made off the essences.

Nothing here is accidental, benevolent, or good game design. Just don't sugar coat it.

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50 minutes ago, Tarantula said:

...

It sounds as if you guys have no clue what you are doing with regard to gear at the moment (this is enforced by what Vastin wrote on the OF about a necessary overhaul of the LI system), and therefore, once again, leave it up to the individual players to figure things out. Which we will, no doubt. However, many may/will leave any new essence grind for what it is.

The consequence of having only essence gear to use as a 'baseline' for the new gear seems to be that there is no more baseline.

Don't hide that you don't know what you are doing by saying 'we make your decisions more interesting and complex'.

And once again, you bash your own forced essence grind of the last few years, while attempting to sell us that what you have come up with now will be better.

I trust that the sold Mordor packages + the solvents/removal scrolls you are going to sell will equal if not surpass the past income you made off the essences.

Nothing here is accidental, benevolent, or good game design. Just don't sugar coat it.

Great post.

The part about having to make interesting and complex decisions in terms of gear choices stood out to me too.

That's another way of saying "don't look at me, you figure it out!".   Also, "if you have trouble, that's too bad, looks like you made the wrong choice." 

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You forgot one important oversight on their part.  

"Oops, these essences created a huge amount of stat bloat and now we have nowhere to go"  Their solution is to increase the grind tenfold, again, negate the last few years of progression and make us start from scratch.  They painted themselves into a corner and now they need to drastically overhaul the system to fix it.  Everyone is getting a huge nerf across the board and it's going to take so much more time and energy to get us to about 2/3s what we were previously.  This new radiance system and total stat overhaul is so that all of that old gear we have is totally worthless on day one.  It's not even good enough to make it five levels into the new region.  I'm so sick of this shit.

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45 minutes ago, warspeech said:

 Also, "if you have trouble, that's too bad, looks like you made the wrong choice."

You made the wrong choice.... now grind some more to correct it.

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27 minutes ago, Amenhir said:

You forgot one important oversight on their part.  

"Oops, these essences created a huge amount of stat bloat and now we have nowhere to go"  Their solution is to increase the grind tenfold, again, negate the last few years of progression and make us start from scratch.  They painted themselves into a corner and now they need to drastically overhaul the system to fix it.  Everyone is getting a huge nerf across the board and it's going to take so much more time and energy to get us to about 2/3s what we were previously.  This new radiance system and total stat overhaul is so that all of that old gear we have is totally worthless on day one.  It's not even good enough to make it five levels into the new region.  I'm so sick of this shit.

I think that they don't care about the stat bloat. That stat bloat was fed by the essence grind/levels, which was fed by the hunger for $$. What they care about, again/still, is $$: new grind = new $$. Even if there was no stat bloat, they would still introduce a new grind, because of the $$. That requires less thinking/consistency on their part, while if we had a very well done system/balance, it would take more skill to build on it.

The whole idea is: how to extract as much $$ with as little input.

They did the same with the trait trees = money money. Years later they admitted they were wrong, but they never corrected it, because it still makes money.

This whole idea of 'we created thousands of pieces of gear'... seriously? Didn't they simplify gear before this into 3 classes: light, medium, heavy, each with its own fixed stats: vitality/will, vitality/agility, vitality/might? Let me translate this 'we created thousands of pieces of gear' in a different way: 'we created a new grind, in that you are going to want to hunt for piece X that has stats A, B, and C, but it's going to be difficult to find it, because we have made the drop rate abysmally low'.

The new essences/grind/'radiance' can be introduced because it's Mordor. Present it as something Mordor related and it becomes acceptable to a larger part of the players.

My plan is to start with The Wastes after tomorrow and get to 115 any way possible before I go to Mordor. I am very glad that I didn't do anything else but some flower picking, as far as gear/essences went. Even if I would like to get some good gear, I won't play this game. 'I am not a hamster and this is not a wheel'.

People buy 'Mordor' despite SSG, not because of it.

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I think that it would be very boring if no new gear was introduced. I like this part of the game when all old stuff gets obsolete and you need to start anew. It always have been like that and will be I guess. Good!

Also, Vastin has my respect. He has done some good things. It's going the right way with essences now. This time they're not overpowered like they were and their value has been reduced. A crafted item will have the same quality as an item with essence slots. The only advantage it gives now is the opportunity of specialization and with the reduction of the amount of slots the chance that it will get out of hand is reduced.

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