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Occam's Hellrazor

These are exceedingly average dabblings in the daft art of theorycrafting. Made from scratch pad. Enter at someone else's risk.

Author: Speely

Camelot Unchained: Player vs Chaser

Posted by Speely Sunday August 31 2014 at 8:49PM
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( This is a post about Camelot Unchained's "Daily Report" system of progression, which groups all character and resource/gear progression into a Daily Report rather than rewarding experience and loot for actions as they happen. The fundamentals of this system can be found here: http://camelotunchained.com/v2/bsc-design-docs/progression-system/ )

Why do we play games? Is it to have fun? Is it really that simple? If so, how does the reward system used by nearly every MMORPG to date affect that? The constant presence of progression that throws numbers at us and begs us to make our numbers go up as fast as the next player's OR ELSE....

This is something I have always disliked. This carrot-dangling is almost impossible to ignore and just have fun, because even if you try to do so, there is always the built-in reminder that "hey this game ranks success by progression, and if you aren't making those numbers go up, we will remind you of that by virtue of the simple numerical disparity between you and players dedicated to progress." It's right there in the UI and the menus and in the con system. "HURRY UP, YOU'RE GREEN."

"BE A CHASER" 

I think that's one way to go about making games that is all well and good, but I don't think it's the best way. And this is why I think the Daily Report system in Camelot Unchained is absolutely one of the most exciting features I have ever heard of in the MMORPG genre. Those of us who have played Pen and Paper role-playing games are familiar with a similar system, as it calculates your actions for the day or "session" and determines the rewards you gain, both progression and item-wise, to present them to you all at once. It is similar, although in PnP games you get most of your loot as you go, but there are far fewer encounters in these games and, in general, less volume of loot to deal with than in most MMORPGs, so it makes sense.

Side note: This all works so well in theory because Camelot Unchained will feature a horizontal progression system that develops skills and broadens their usage rather than relegating everything to a level-based access system. 

Now the first reason I like this system so much is that it will take away the presence of any kind of progression quantifiers during actual gameplay. Players will not be monitoring their experience bars or worrying about their loot while actually engaging in RvR. If the system is done correctly, players will literally only be worried about having fun and doing what they want to do in support of their realm. Hardcore progression-grinders who traditionally powerlevel just to do PvP at endgame will be able to just concentrate on doing hardcore RvR in order to progress. There is no "swap a dozen keeps" required to achieve some kind of optimal progress, at least in theory. More relaxed or casual players will be able to do whatever they like, and though they will know that their rewards will likely be less than those who are siege-assaulting left and right, it's not displayed right there on the screen or the con system basically asking them, "What's up, slacker? Have fun being a lowbie forever." Combined with a horizontal progression system, this means that quirky and diverse, or less-hardcore styles of play might be possible without a huge crippling of progression.

In other words, we won't be playing against a progression system for which the game world is just an interface that facilitates progression. We will be playing in the game world itself because that's all there is, and will achieve progression based on that playing.

Another VERY exciting reason I love this system is that so much more is possible with it. CSE will conceivably be able to account for things a normal carrot-chase system cannot. When everything has static rewards affected only by limited variables that are then automatically handed out, only those pieces of progression can be accounted for. They exist in a vacuum and repeat over and over and over. Enough pieces and DING, we level! Yay? However, in a Daily Report system, we can have all of that (without having to pay attention to it) AND we can have rewards and modifiers based on an entire day's performance. Reward modifiers could account for so much more, as it can weigh different variables against the whole and introduce rewards based on things a carrot system cannot.

For example. Let's say that, using the component system (  http://camelotunchained.com/v2/bsc-design-docs/magic-system/ ) to create attacks, a very large percentage of a realm's player base uses the same resulting skills/spells a LOT during a day. Maybe they gained popularity by being shared a lot, or maybe they're just obviously optimal combinations of components that work really well in many RvR situations.  A daily reward system could conceivably take this into account and reward all players who are in the lowest percentile of "most commonly used skills today," effectively encouraging creativity and evolving progression rather than FOTM play. 

This is just an example of HOW the system could be used differently. Whether or not that specific example is a good or bad idea is better left to people smarter than I. The point is, a Daily Reward system can do far more than a traditional system by using daily aggregates of various gameplay statistics to reward a player based on broader variables.

What will be key here, I believe, is keeping enough of it a mystery so as to not devolve into a situation where players figure out the optimal actions with leet math skills and just reduce the system to another (slightly more obscure) carrot, BUT providing enough feedback so that players know, in a very general sense, the kinds of things they are being rewarded for. I think erring on the side of keeping things a bit mysterious is a good idea here. 

I say this because we often don't know what we find fun. We think we do, and we shake our fists at the sky until someone provides us with that specific kind of non-fun we want, but we don't really know. We think that having ALL the information and knowing exactly what to do to make our experience bars fill up quicker is fun, but I think that for most people, it's not. It's just an obsessive requirement for games with vertical progression systems. The Daily Report system could enable us to have fun destroying an enemy's stabilizers, capturing a keep, or roaming for resource groups as need or whim dictates and not know with certainty that there is a different course of action that would yield greater rewards and thus should be done instead, as our obsession with achievement dictates.

We will just be doing what makes the most sense in regard to our strategies, and that is a beautiful thing. We won't have players just doing things that make NO sense for the realm just because they give better rewards. We will actually be able to fight as if it's a... gasp... WAR. Complete with real territory control and resource capture, and all the wonderful things that go along with them when you don't have to worry about a bar filling up to let you know you're doing well. You have a giant pile of dead enemies or a freshly-constructed keep to tell you that, and they will actually MEAN something.

So I, for one, think that the Daily Report system is probably the one thing that brings all the other awesome elements and BSC ideas of Camelot Unchained together and makes them better by freeing them from the formulas that might otherwise reduce them to being mere tools of progression.

 

 

MMORPG.com writes:
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