After we made improvements to the pet system, we figured it would be in our best interests to improve the game's equipment system as well. We understand that our players want their gear to be anything but ordinary, and many are dissatisfied with the star ranking equipment system. The challenge is coming up with a new system that can be both interesting and easy for players to adapt to. It is a tough assignment because our opinions are subjective, and until it is put to the test by our players, we are "sailing in blue water."
Initially, we had some cool ideas. Some staff members favored a direct extension to the current design. The goal there was to strengthen the equipment using special items. For instance, players might design a specific kind of mystic scroll and apply it to a piece of equipment to boost their physical attack power. We even came up with a name for this: the "Mystic Binding System." While the idea is a good one, it is hard to put into practice. Although the process is easy to understand, the system would take too much away from the gameplay and is too involved. Players would first have to learn how to design a scroll, and then learn how to apply it to make maximum use of it. We think we have enough game content without adding a time-intensive, multi-step equipment enhancing process that would detract from game time better spent on other pursuits.
One staff member favored a variation of the "Mystic Binding System." Taking complexity into consideration, he recommended eliminating the scroll designing process. Though this could make the process easier, it would still fall short of our intent to add something new and interesting to the game. Without the scroll designing process, players could purchase the scroll from the item mall or through rewards from various events, which would be too much like extending the star ranking system from the current 10 levels to 20.
As it turned out, I received an unexpected phone call that sparked many further conversations before we finally nailed down the "Holy Suit System." Believe me when I say the call came at an expected time; it was 1:00 AM in the morning. The call was from Frank, one of our customer service staff members (also a close friend of mine). He had an idea inspired by a comic book from his childhood. He sounded quite excited and started telling me about this holy suit idea of his. Considering the late hour when he called and my lack of enthusiasm, probably due to the fact that I was sound asleep at the time, I managed to accomplish two things: get confused and get more confused. However, the next morning his idea finally started to make sense. Everyone, myself included, liked his idea.
The new system would divide equipment into three classes: bronze, silver and gold. It would give players a better visual representation of their progress. Besides, metallic suits look good. To upgrade their equipment, players would need to gather some corresponding items. At first, we weren't sure what items to use. We wanted something players could easily obtain. Then another staff member, Jerry, recommended using players' experience points in combination with some easily obtainable items. We had been having problems figuring what to do with players who had reached the level cap and had stockpiled extra experience points, and this was a great opportunity for us to kill two birds with one stone. We felt players would have no problem with that, because otherwise they were stuck with these built up points with nothing to use them on.
Mabie, our SVP, recommended enchasing gems on suits. She likes fashion, including dazzling accessories, but she had a whole set of reasons behind this idea, and one of them is based on the wolf in sheepskin concept. Players who want to surprise others with their performance would have the option of strengthening their equipment without changing the look. She also wanted to give players an alternate way to improve their equipment.
Now that I have shared the brainstorming process behind our new Holy Suit System, I'd like to invite players with good ideas or suggestions to please contact us, but try to avoid Frank's method. I don't think anyone likes the idea of being woken up at that hour of the night. We like his idea very much, but not his delivery method. Again, all comments are welcome, and as always, we will try to make the right choices that will best accommodate our players in a timely fashion. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have stood behind us over the past several months; we appreciate your support.