This week, the Path of Exile team has some interesting tidbits of information to share with its community in the form of the forthcoming "Solo Self-Found" mode coming to ladder participation with 2.6.0 We'll take a peek inside the design of the labyrinth and check out the second round of winners from the PoE Talent Competition. Lastly, we'll take a look at some new microtransactions and talk with devs about how Grinding Gear is on the cutting edge of funding Path of Exile.
Let's Start with a Plea to GG
Anxious to know more about the recently-announced next act for Path of Exile? We want to know too and it sounds like we'll all know more sometime in February:
MMORPG: MMORPG: When we can we expect to learn more about the next Act? (Toss me a bone!)
GG: We're holding a press tour in California during the week of the 6th of February. Be there! :-)
Climbing the Ladder All Alone
Players have long been requesting a way to take part in ladder content in Path of Exile and devs are delivering in 2.6.0. Called "Solo Self-Found", or SSF, is a new way for players to progress through the ladder alone by choice. This means no partying, no trading and upward mobility is linked directly to one's own prowess.
We asked Grinding Gear about SSF. Here's what they had to say:
MMORPG: The solo self-found mode is a big deal for ladder climbers. Can you elaborate a bit on how it'll work? Will it be separate from the regular ladders, or in tandem?
GG: They're separate ladders, but you're able to move from the Solo Self-Found one to the regular one (as a one-way transfer) at the point that you decide you want to trade and play with other players. It's basically a way of scoring how far you could get using your own resources. We're not going to push it as the primary way to play Path of Exile, just a fun mode to try out for the challenge.
To give even more background, a new SSF manifesto has been published on the official site that gives much more detail, including the notion that this will be a formal, yet optional, feature for those who wish to take part and it will have rules enforcement.
No one knows if you completed the challenges in an SSF league or not, but this is important so that the SSF mode doesn't feel mandatory. If you don't want to play in it, just ignore it and play the regular one! If you do like playing SSF, then this mode will give you the ability to demonstrate your progress in an indisputable way.
SSF is still a work in progress as the manifesto clearly shows, but it is a step in the right direction. Be sure to swing by the site and make your voice heard as developers implement the new feature.
Getting a Peek Inside the Creative Process
As another part of the history of Path of Exile, the site has been updated with a detailed look at how one feature, The Labyrinth system, was designed and created. During 2016, two Grinding Gear design developers offered their thoughts on the design process behind The Labyrinth system that came into PoE during Ascendancy. To give players an idea of the complexity of the creation of the system is, the entire presentation document along with speakers' notes has been released.
If you're fascinated by "how we did it" and if you want to get a peek behind the curtain, head to The Labyrinth presentation notes to see how it happened.
We also took the opportunity to ask GG directly about The Labyrinth. Here's what they had to say:
MMORPG: The Labyrinth system came out with Ascendancy, and now looking back at its design - are there things you all wish you did differently? Things you want to approve moving forward?
GG: We're very happy with the Labyrinth. It feels totally different to the rest of Path of Exile, and we feel that's important. There are potential improvements coming to it in the future. For example, the team is discussing reducing the length of the normal difficulty one. I would expect to see it continue to receive changes as part of the regular Path of Exile content going forward.
The Microtransaction Revolution
There aren't many of us who haven't check out other "free to play" games and who may or may not have experienced the often mess accusations of "pay to win" or "buy to win". Grinding Gear long ago decided that funding Path's development would take part via the microtransaction model -- essentially totally cosmetic items that are in constant development and constantly changing in availability.
MMORPG: The way PoE is funded, via the cosmetic transactions, is one of the fairest formats of F2P in the genre. Why do you think others haven't picked up a similar model? And what do you say to folks who loathe things like "gambling boxes"?
GG: I think that other companies are scared that they won't make enough money if they switch to just sales of cosmetics. Also, their playerbases and games may be okay with the sale of functional items - I'm sure it varies from product to product. Ours is quite competitive, so it's important to keep a fair playing field.
With regards to mystery boxes, if someone is concerned about the random outcomes, we encourage them to wait until (almost all of) the microtransactions are added to the regular store a month after the boxes go off sale.
Why do YOU suppose that other companies haven't picked up on GG's unique funding model?
That explained, there are also four brand new microtransactions: Ebony Tornado Shot, Dragon Banners Back Attachment, Celestial Hood (SO AWESOME!) and Infernal Character Effect. You can check out a couple of the videos on this page or head straight to the PoE page to see them in action.
Finally, Even More Awesome Talent from the PoE Community
With last week's wrap up of the Path of Exile Talent Competition, GG decided that so much great work had been shared that they couldn't simply stick to the announced pool of winners. This week, another full slate of runners-up has been showcased on the site, competitors all receiving 250 points. Do yourself a favor and go have a look!