(Snipehunter here: Caspian was unable to post the blog he had written today about the change we made to Villager Tokens in D&SS. I wanted to post it on his behalf so that the information was available as soon as possible, so please allow me to post his words here.)
I come with greetings and good tidings for a successful Domain & Settlement Selection. In addition, I wanted to take a moment to provide an update on the usage and value of Villager Tokens as they relate to Domain & Settlement selection and Exposition.
First, let me explain the problem Villager and Guild Tokens are meant to solve: In traditional MMOs it is commonly the responsibility of the Guild Leader to fund the establishment and maintenance of an online guild. This ranges from in-game costs such as charters, tabards, vault space, building materials & resources, raiding materials, etc. to out-of-game costs such as websites, VoIP servers, and the purchase of virtual items for use by the guild. With Chronicles of Elyria, during this phase leading up to Exposition, we wanted to find a way to distribute the costs to the guild members and citizens so that the burden wouldn't fall entirely on the settlement or guild leader. Hence, the introduction of Villager and Guild Tokens.
When we first created the tokens it was our intention that they be transferred and collected all the way up until Exposition, after Domain & Settlement Selection and Personas, when players would be in the best position to recruit for their settlements and organizations. That said, Villager tokens offered a single set of benefits for everyone that turned them in: These were an increase in population, and an addition to parcel count for the settlement on a scale of 3-5:1, depending on settlement size.
We came to realize that wasn't enough and so, along the way, we added some extra value to tokens, by making it so that tokens will be traded in during Exposition and exchanged for several different benefits to an organization or settlement, depending on what is needed most. For example, if you've got a settlement which is already at a low sustainability, adding more population may be less preferable to more usable land instead, or maybe an influx of resources. Depending on the number of tokens traded in, they can have a different effect, be that adding new structures, allocating new land, altering the resource abundance in parcels you specify, or something else along those lines.
Despite this intended usage pattern, we opted to include projections of their potential impact in the Domain & Settlement Selection portal, based on their original design, as a way to inform you as to how using them may effect the sustainability of your settlement. Unfortunately, this has led to confusion rather than clarity, much to our dismay.
Originally, our earliest wave of testers saw settlements increasing in size based on tokens at a rate of 3-5 to 1, depending on the size of the settlement, as we had explained in the item description. But what we found was that this caused confusion as it wasn't clear why clicking on some settlements showed more growth than clicking on other settlements. It also made sustainability calculations more confusing. Since we knew that the tokens were ultimately just informational and a device to be used during Exposition, we opted to try to make things easier to understand by changing those projections to use a flat 5 tokens per 1 parcel of land when calculating sustainability. However, this had the unintended effect of making it seem as if we were intent on robbing people of some of the value of their tokens, when it was in fact the opposite:
We want to provide more variety, more options, and more value for the tokens - but at Exposition, not during Domain & Settlement Selection.
Additionally, the nature of tokens made it so we pragmatically weren't able to upgrade settlements from one type to another during D&SS via the application of tokens. What if you didn't apply all of the titles in a later stage of the pick process? What if you got to Exposition and didn't end up using your tokens to increase the population? Both cases would mean that what you had in game differed from what you saw in D&SS. But showing the potential impact of tokens and our own desire to allow people to customize their settlements with Tokens during Exposition clashed, and that clash led to additional confusion. Why do titles contribute to settlement size classification and not tokens? The short answer is, because during Exposition, tokens - even those used to expand the parcel and population count - don't necessarily build the required buildings and change the settlement size classification. That's up to you, the players, to decide when you trade-in your tokens. Trying to carry that back into the D&SS process only muddied the waters, which was never what we wanted.
Given all of the above, we want to make it clear that we have in no way diminished the value you get from your Villager Tokens. You are free to trade them in for people and parcels, still at a rate of 3-5:1 depending on settlement type, but are further going to be able to customize your settlement with them in other ways as well. But given the confusion caused by seeing the parcels and population change on the settlement & domain info panel, while there isn't really an inherent connection between D&SS and Exposition, we feel it's clearer and more straightforward if we allow the Tokens to stand on their own as an Exposition-time tool and simply remove them from the D&SS portal.
The point is, it makes the most sense to trade the tokens in at a time when you can walk around in your settlement and determine for yourself the optimal way to use the resources your supporters have given you. Should you want to use them to expand your settlement size and population, it's still preferable to allow you to determine where/how to expand your settlement at that time, and not confuse the issue by trying to make a prediction during D&SS. So even in the default case, there's benefit to deferring the application of tokens for Exposition.
Note again that this doesn't affect your ability to use them to grow your settlement, we're just making it clear when you'll use them, which is at a time that is more appropriate and at a time when you can get the most value out of them. Additionally, please be aware that Villager Tokens are still able to be traded until Exposition, so don't forget to use them as a tool during recruitment!
Pledged to The Continued Development of the Soulborn Engine and the Chronicles of Elyria,