2.5.2019#Exposition & Kingdoms of Elyria
Caspian: Whether or not people will enter into Expo at the same time or tiered is something that's being discussed and debated internally as well. I think the debate you're having is a result of the internal debate and the fact that I pointed out potential issues the other day when asked about it in Discord.
It comes to this: What's the goal of Exposition and which approach better actualizes the goal?
Well, as it turns out there's actually two goals. The first is world-building. This is best accomplished by allowing each tier - nobility, aristocracy, and gentry to enter into Expo in a tiered way. This ensures that each tier has time to do some of their most important world-building before the next tier enters into the world. For example, if you're a count, and your job is to ensure a fair distribution of resources throughout your county, having gentry come in with significant EP and claim the land all of the natural resources are on will make it more difficult to create contracts post-launch.
Similarly, gentry that come in at the same time as mayors can potentially start claiming the land around the settlement in order to force a mayor to have to purchase the land from the people around them, thus putting the settlement in a poorer financial state overall, while potentially making those that sell the land a bit better of. As you can see, there's clearly some exploitable mechanics here.
The second goal of Exposition, however, is to create dramatic story through the establishment of conflicts. As it turns out, both of the scenarios I just described provide for interesting conflicts. So it's not a clear black & white.
Caspian: If we tier the entry, we give the dukes, counts, and mayors a time-limited opportunity to claim as much as they can based on their EP in order to "get everything they wanted". If we don't tier the entry, then there's virtually no time for them to secure their domains and settlements and creates potentially too much conflict. So the team and I are playing out the various scenarios to determine which is ultimately more favorable and whether there is an alternate solution, such as simultaneous entry, but perhaps with other constraints, such as not allowing the claiming of valuable land for a period of time, or having dramatically higher prices for the land initially which gradually decline to make them more achievable.
At the end of the day, our goal isn't the individual fulfillment of each player, mind you. It's about creating a world that is believable and enjoyable for the people who come in post-launch. That is generally going to mean some degree of conflict, but settlements that have had enough time to use their EP that each feels unique and purposeful.
Caspian: @ Marovec V'ralt (Finn) Ⓥ RE: Kingdoms of Elyria. There's really three sides to it. One side we understand very well, the other side is still ephemeral.
First, KoE is about testing out the mechanics which are being introduced as part of Alpha 2. This includes kingdom, settlement, and land management, as well as sieging and battlefield combat. So at a high level, KoE is about giving people an opportunity to exercise those tools.
Second, KoE is about helping to shape and shake-up the political landscape a bit by giving players an additional opportunity for conflict and drama. Potentially even creating some new aristocracy (and unlikely nobility).
Third, KoE is about giving players something meaningful to do during the final stages of development by helping to write some of the recent history.
We understand very well what #1 is all about. We also understand the principle of #3 and what it means. It's #2 above that's problematic. We still have the same design in mind for #2, but in truth, KoE hasn't been a big focus for us, as the mechanics that are a part of #1 aren't in development right now.
Marovec V'ralt (Finn) Ⓥ: @ Caspian Is how that all ties into Expo the ephemeral part? In other words, from what we understand, our titles and settlements are supposed to be fairly sacrosanct up until the PvP restriction is lifted in Expo. We have until that point to gather our communties, spend our EP, and build up our defenses, so to speak.
From what you are describing, in terms of "KoE is about helping to shape and shake-up the political landscape a bit by giving players an additional opportunity for conflict and drama. Potentially even creating some new aristocracy (and unlikely nobility)" seems to run contrary to that belief.
Am I misunderstanding something?
Caspian: @ Marovec V'ralt (Finn) Ⓥ You are correct. That is the ephemeral part. Our goal is to give players the ability to change the landscape and history a bit, while simultaneously preserving what people have claimed during DSS.
Our most recent design I think captures that best, which is why we haven't delved into it further. Our current plan is something like Screeps. Players will enter into KoE and the aristocracy and nobility will take control of their domains and settlements. Then play will proceed with people able to invade, conquer, build, expand, etc.
Players will be rewarded with some kind of currency, for now assume EP, for building onto their land and maintaining it for a period of time. If a settlement or domain is invaded and someone is uprooted, they simply pick a new piece of land and start over again.
The person who invaded their settlement takes ownership, and now gains the same currency for holding onto the land, and more currency if they improve the land. So everyone is encouraged to build, not to destroy, but at the same time everyone is encouraged to expand and conquer.
Once KoE ends, ownership reverts back to the original owners, and changes made to the landscape would be semi-permanent with some of the stuff persisting into Exposition.
Again, this isn't a final design, but allows for both people to hold onto their settlements and domains, along with a degree of pseudo-randomness that accounts for the passage of time. Nothing here is final.
Caspian: We have our path for testing. We have two phases of Alpha testing which are intended to be functional testing. The focus isn't on bugs, but on gameplay mechanics. It's an opportunity to validate the game is fun, and make changes as necessary to ensure the best possible design.
Alpha 1 Focuses on the adventurer tier. The mechanics in Alpha 1 will focus on survival, exploration, combat, and crafting. It's generally considered to be most of the features players would use as adventurers
Alpha 2 Focuses on the gentry, aristocracy, and nobility tiers with mechanics such as land management, housing and settlement building, as well as domain and kingdom management.
After Alpha is Beta. Beta is about finding bugs and ensuring as smooth of a launch as possible. It is again divided up into two phases.
Beta 1 is about finding bugs that are unrelated to stress or latency. The focus will be on UI/mechanical bugs that are not time-critical, such as crafting, settlement and domain management, survival, etc.
Beta 2 is about finding bugs that are related to stress or latency. The focus will be on combat and other high-action activities.
We chose to sell access to the various testing phases at various price points as a way to gate/meter how many people would be in each testing phase. As a result, there are, for example, just over 2,500 people with access to Alpha 1. The numbers then increase rapidly up to Beta 2/Stress Test.
Caspian: I'll go in depth in a DJ, but the short of it is, we imagined a hierarchy of skills mostly due to our previous experience with RPGs. But our diagetic approach to our user experiences requires things like techniques for combat.
Meanwhile crafting still has techniques but also has stations, patterns, etc.
But our tracking skills like ... tracking and forensics didn't fit the same mold nicely. Neither did many of the guile skills.
At the end of the day we realized that we actually had a few different set of user experiences which we had somewhat artificially forced to use the same base system. We've instead separated them into their own domains or areas, each with their own system of advancement, UX, and UIs.
We continue to iterate so that each system is intuitive, but separating them allows us to really tune each one to make it especially entertaining.
Caspian: For example, the screen you use to customize your personal martial style doesn't need to look anything like the recipe book you use for crafting, or the knowledge base or journal you use for tracking what your character knows.
Caspian: We now use your advancement in each of the systems to define a soft archetype for your soul, etc. So even though the UI/UX and advancement mechanics are different, we can still say that someone who has trained a lot in the martial system is a Champion, while someone who has trained exclusively in the crafting system is a Producer.
Forensics and tracking are planned to be observation based UI/UX. Tracking people about identifying the signs of travel, using your knowledge to pick out the tracks, etc.
Forensics is also a visual aid, but is more like two truths and a lie. The environment might provide information, and you must deduce from your character's knowledge which information is incorrect.
Epicface: Huh. That is fascinating. Makes a lot of sense, though. So for those skills would there still be different techniques, or is it more straight up based on the environment, type of tracks/clues, and character knowledge?
Caspian: @ Epicface the latter. There might be things from alchemy that you might use in your information gathering, but no techniques directly in that system.
Caspian: As an example.
It's about acquiring knowledge through different means and then using that knowledge to perform deductions. In case you hadn't noticed, we're taking a Sherlock Holmes approach to Forensics.
We are free to do it on a per system basis. There just needs to be some metric by which we measure competency.
We are still iterating on the new skill systems, their paths of progression, and their unique user experiences, but I suspect we'll be making significant progress on it over the next few weeks.
Caspian: Religion is a mechanic. But it is a closely guarded set of secrets. But I'd say it's safe to assume we at least track and quantify religious devotion. Whether that has any effect will not likely be revealed.
Religion, devotion, and divinity are things we have intentionally kept quiet about for years now.
It is a specific, dedicated play style meant for those people who want to explore a more esoteric part of the game.
Religion is not cosmetic. It has mechanics associated with it, and clerics, Paladins, sages etc. of the different religions is a thing. Even if they may not know whether their deeds have meaning.
You gotta have faith faith faith...