About two years ago, I had a chance encounter with an executive from a tech giant during a lunch interview with Scarlet. We discussed what it takes to make it in business, games or otherwise, and the one truth I will never forget is, "A successful company is one that has both passion for their projects and love for their customers."
Over the last few years, the principle of "love for the customer" is one that has consistently and repeatedly guided our decision-making process and has motivated us to, whenever possible, address and treat problems surfaced to us by the community with forethought and an open mind. I think we’ve all experienced that, sometimes, attempting to solve problems can unknowingly create future problems down the road. When this happens, we have a choice. We can either address the problem, ignore it, or kick it down the road to be solved later on - often then becoming an even greater problem.
With title transfers and package claiming just around the corner, and with Ltd. Courtier and Ltd. Royal packages going back on sale today for a limited time, it felt like an ideal time to fix a few complications with title limits and title transfers that were created way back in 2016.
The rest of this dev blog is going to have a few more anecdotes explaining our decision-making process and some numbers and statistics. Full disclosure, this information is primarily aimed at the aristocracy and nobility, who may be making decisions based on information addressed in this blog. If you’re not buying or transferring titles any time soon, it may be safe to just jump to the conclusion. But of course, you’re more than welcome to read it regardless of your pledge package/title.
Still with me? Great! Last week, in order to prevent people from purchasing too many packages during the November 2018 promo, and getting into a position where they had more titles than they could actually use (again, love for the customers), I discussed with the ambassadors, moderators, and Exclusive Access members a set of proposed limits on titles. The limits discussed were to apply to both Package Claiming as well as Title Transfers. At first, there was some negative feedback and pushback but, after a marathon Discord session, those present had encouraged me to settle on a compromise.
Afterward, the longer I considered this compromise, the more the numbers felt wrong to me - and I couldn't entirely explain why. I jumped into the ambassador channel and expressed my frustration and was later encouraged to understand the source of my frustration. It was a good suggestion. So I spent some time over the Thanksgiving holiday re-reading through old dev blogs, pouring through old Discord and IRC conversations, and trying to understand what it was about the numbers that had me so concerned. I finally realized what it was.
The problem was that the compromise I made on numbers - even the original numbers I had proposed - didn't adequately address the problem at hand and was, instead, kicking the real problem down the road to be faced by the players later on.
It's easy to forget when we interact with the aristocracy and nobility here on the forums and in Discord everyday, that a voice is missing. It's the voice of the hundreds of thousands of players who have not yet tuned in, not yet purchased, and not yet signed in for the first time to create their character. Their voices need to be heard as well. As I re-read over our old developer blogs, I put myself in their shoes, heard their voices, and came up with a new set of policies which are both fair, mathematically sound, and honor the original vision of Chronicles of Elyria in a way that neither my proposal nor our compromise last week did.
First, going all the way back to the original design journal on Kingdom and Land Management it was clear that we intended for the kingdoms, duchies, and counties to be of varying size. This is true both across the servers as well as on a single server. The world of Elyria is fair, but not equitable, and not all domains should be homogenous.
At the same time, we put in place a range of sizes and numbers in order to ensure diversity and choice for the players. In our original blog post, we'd said we wanted there to be 3-5 kingdoms per server, 6-10 duchies per kingdom, and 12-20 counties per duchy. Make note of these ranges as the minimums are important. We’ll come back to them.
We later settled on fixed, albeit slightly larger, numbers allowing the players to - through their purchases and transfers - control the size and count of the different domains. However, the desire to allow players to have control over the size and number of counties in their duchy, duchies in their kingdom, or kingdoms on their continent cannot come without constraints. Constraints that both ensure approximately the minimum numbers above and a maximum size of each of the merged domains.
Remember, when the game launches, you will have an opportunity to change the compositions listed below through conquest and/or diplomacy. But for the purpose of Domain & Settlement Selection, we're putting in the following constraints on package claiming and title transfers.
On the continental servers:
In more verbose terms, it means there can be no kingdom larger than a double kingdom, no duchy larger than a triple duchy, and no county larger than 6 counties combined. Please note that these all represent 25% (rounded up) of the total available number of domains.
These again represent 25% of the total domain sizes as the starting domain counts on OCE are 33% less than the continental servers.
This addresses part of the problem. While this ensures domain sizes are fair and balanced, and not overly large, it doesn't prevent a domain from being entirely filled up with merged domains (I’ll call them "multis" for short going forward). For example, while we've said the max size of a duchy on a continental server is 3x, this alone would allow a kingdom to fill up with four, 3x duchies. But this violates one of the original visions of the game and creates fewer duchies than our original goal of 6-10.
In order to ensure the minimum number of domains listed above, we must also impose limits on the number of domains that can be involved in mergers. The limits being imposed are listed here:
On the continental servers:
As an example, a kingdom could be made up of a 3x duchy, another 3x duchy, and a 2x duchy. That's a total of 8 "duchies" all contributing toward multis. The remaining 4 duchies must be singles.
As another example, I could have a 6x county, a 4x county, a 3x county, and another 3x county. That's 16 "counties" all contributing toward those 4 counties. With the remaining 8 "single" counties, there would be a total of 12 counties in that sample duchy.
With the above numbers, it's theoretically possible for a continental server to have 3 kingdoms, some made up of as little as 7 duchies, made up of as little as 11 counties. Note that, that more or less meets our intended minimums listed above.
These limits are slightly larger in percentage area than on the continental servers, but that's because the limits on domain sizes on OCE means there are more smaller domains, rather than fewer larger ones.
With these two changes above, we're able to guarantee that no matter how many titles are transferred, and packages are claimed, the starting world will be fair and fun for the incoming players. I’ll emphasize again that we anticipate the number and size of domains to change organically post-launch. But the natural process of expansion and contraction through gameplay manifests differently than large domains that are created through Domain Selection.
Because settlements are more variable in size and number, it’s impossible to put fixed constraints in place. So rather than limit the number of packages someone can combine with settlements, the only rule is that you cannot combine more settlement titles than would account for 25% of the total parcels of the county the settlement is in. So if a county is 1km x 1km that’s 256 total parcels of land. No single settlement, through merging, can be larger than 64 parcels. Note that it’s still possible to have a settlement larger than that by default, but one cannot be created through merging.
To be very explicit, since we do not know how big of a county your settlement will be in until Domain & Settlement Selection, we will allow you to collect as many Mayor titles as you like, without limit. However, regardless of how many you have combined, when you select your settlement during Domain & Settlement selection, it will be capped at 25% of the total area of the county.
Given the above example, if you owned the duchy and two counties (+25 parcels per county) it's entirely possible that your settlement size would grow to be larger than 64 parcels. But due to the above constraint, the settlement would still be capped at 64 parcels because the county is only a 1km x 1km county.
Great! We've set limits of 2, 3, and 6 for the maximum domain sizes, but where are players at now in terms of maximums? Well, we have no way of knowing what people are planning with their title transfers, but we do have data based on Account Merging. Here's what the data says:
As you can see, there are very few triple duchies, or 6x counties, but we know with title transfers and packages going back on sale today that those numbers will increase. And we're ok with that. Up to the limits we provided above.
As some additional information, here's how the duchies and counties are distributed, per server, as of today:
The ability to transfer titles was designed to solve a problem (Notice a theme here?). People wanted to purchase packages for some of the benefits, such as the Design Experiences, and they wanted to support us, but they didn’t want to take on the responsibility of owning a title. So, we introduced two options to remove the burden.
The former was offered for people who didn't know anyone who might benefit from the title, for anyone who might not want to trade in all their titles and instead just some of them, or for people who wanted the additional EP to use for their bloodline customization or other titles.
The latter was offered for people who didn't need/want the EP, people who wanted to get rid of all of their titles, and people who knew someone that might benefit from having a title.
However, what I discovered during the conversation last week is that some, but not all, were intending to use Title Transfer in a way that was different than intended. This is a scenario where we can either ignore the secondary consequences we're now aware of, or we can act in the interest of other players and be a voice for those who might suffer the consequences.
So how is it that some people are intending to use title transfers?
People want to play close to a friend, and the perceived best way to ensure their domain is next to their friend's domain is for their friend to just pick both at the same time. The idea would be to use the Sedecim or other in-game mechanic to transfer the title back.
People with lower influence felt that, by trading their title to someone with higher influence, it would allow them to be part of a better overall domain and, as with the previous scenario, they could get their title back later via in-game means.
Notice something about the above? The player who purchased the package DOES want the title/domain. Or at least, wants the benefits that come from the title and domain. They're just using Title Transfer in order to somehow gain what is perceived to be a more optimal domain. This wasn't the reason we introduced the ability to transfer titles and circumvents the desired goal of finding a way to handle people who didn't want their packages, but didn't want it to go to waste.
So, here's a bit of clarifying information that may help people avoid pitfalls, as well as a new policy we're putting into effect to ensure the best overall outcome.
The above are all things that have been previously discussed and should come as no surprise. But in addition to the above, we're imposing the following new constraint in order to ensure that people are using Title Transfers for the intended reasons:
For example, a count cannot transfer their county stack to a Duke. The duke has problems of their own to manage. This change is intended to directly combat people who are planning to transfer their titles to more influential people in order to obtain a more favorable domain.
The system was designed the way it was for a reason. And while transferring titles up was an unanticipated workaround, it is a workaround, and the effects of such will not create domain borders that are in the best interest of the player-base at large.
Similarly, you cannot transfer mayor titles to counts and above. The mechanism for increasing another person's settlement is through Villager Tokens or EP gifts; not additional mayor titles.
I know this one in particular will sting for a couple people. But please remember, the Mayor Package(s) were advertised as a way for players to take control of an existing settlement during Domain & Settlement Selection, customize it during Exposition, and then run it after launch. If you don't want the mayor title, you're free to transfer it to someone else who does want to run a settlement, or exchange it for additional EP.
CoE is a game in-development, which means things are still subject to change. Sometimes those changes will be game mechanics, sometimes they'll be policies around our community events and engagement.
But because we always make decisions with "love for our customers" in mind, those changes will more often than not be in everyone's best interest. However, sometimes unintended consequences mean that we must hem in a potential exploit to uphold the integrity of the game for all involved. In this case, using the title transfer system to bypass the picking order or amassing an unbalanced domain size.
To ensure that CoE launches with the correct range of domains and sub-domains, and to ensure that future players - whose voice cannot yet be heard - come into the game with the best possible landscape in which to play in, we're setting the following constraints and imposing the following rules and limitations.
On the continental servers:
On All Servers:
Again, we're sympathetic to any players affected by these policies, but felt the constraints and limitations to be fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of the game. If, once title transfer is enabled, you find yourself with more titles in your inventory than the above constraints, feel free to contact support for options.
Pledged to the Continued Development of the Soulborn Engine and the Chronicles of Elyria,