Running with the Gods in Crucible
With Skyforge firmly in retail release and the first major update, Crucible of the Gods, already deployed, we reached out to Obsidian and My.com to talk more about Crucible, what it brings to the game, the part feedback played in some of the design decisions and much more.
MMORPG: This is a HUGE patch for Skyforge. It brings about a lot of elder-game content, even with so many still in the early stages. Is this about the size of content patches we can expect from Skyforge going forward, and about how often is your team aiming to push them out?
Eric DeMilt: This was a very large update for us. Going forward, not all of them will be this big, but when we introduce notable updates we will tend to bundle them together, resulting in a larger patch. With the larger updates we are striving to release new content and mechanics but also fix as many issues and potential bugs as we can. The team put in a lot of work to get everything we wanted to add into the game in time and we have a big pipeline of stuff scheduled for future updates.
MMORPG: Can you talk about the God Mode? Not just how to obtain it, but how deep the rabbit hole goes in terms of additional progression and choices for your character? I know there’s a quest tied to around 30,500 Prestige, but is it more complex than that?
Eric: After you’ve unlocked your Divine Form you will open up an entirely new Divine Atlas which adds further customization to your character and more specifically, their Divine Form. Within this atlas are 6 specializations which, when enabled in a future update, will have their own Atlas as well! These specializations focus on different styles of play such as the God of War specialization for those who enjoy massive PvP battles, God of Knowledge for creating powerful items, or God of Authority for additional bonuses when managing your Order.
MMORPG: Can we walk a bit about the Invasions? How to they work, and how often can they be done while still getting rewards?
Eric: Invasions are large scale events that will run over several weeks. In the initial invasions, players are going to have to work together in 3, 5, and 10 man missions to help save Aelion. However, players also need to spend some time preparing for the invasion first. Gods are stronger in numbers so being a part of a Pantheon is the first step. Pantheons will need to get their Academy to level 3 so they can build an Ether Projector which helps them build resistances to the enemy’s particular type of damage. Once they’ve built this, their Pantheon’s members can then work to improve their resistances needed in order to fight back against the current Invading army and participate in the associated missions. These missions are not to be taken lightly and players will need a well built and coordinated team to emerge successful.
MMORPG: The prestige scaling is huge for grouping. Are there any plans to allow players of the appropriate prestige level to do anything higher than normal difficulty though? Say, if all players were high enough for Impossible, but still spread far apart in prestige?
Eric: To clarify, the ratings of “Normal” or “Impossible” reference how difficult the instance is for a player of that prestige, not strictly the difficulty level of the Adventure. The actual difficulty goes from 1-5 stars followed by 1-5 skulls.
When it comes to PvE, prestige-scaling offers players an easy way to group with friends who may not otherwise be able to run the same content together normally. As far as obtaining better rewards while still using prestige-scaling, the system is still a work-in-progress so we will be continually looking at ways we can improve the experience and relevant rewards.
MMORPG: This patch also marked the first raiding content to the game. What sort of rewards can be obtained in raids, and do you foresee raids being the game’s chief form of PVE end-game content?
Eric: Unlike other MMOs, raids represent only one portion of high-end PvE related content in Skyforge. Current raids offer players epic rings for downing each boss, but Invasions and Distortions both represent other key PvE content crucial to your character’s overall progression. These provide additional epic equipment, including some very powerful weapons!
Outside of the more traditional PvE raiding experiences provided by these types of content, Pantheon Wars also serve as a key form of PvE and PvP “end-game” content as they offer players unique rewards for competing in special PvE raids and Pantheon PvP battles for control over powerful ancient temples.
MMORPG: I’m wondering about the Adepts and Missions systems. These are fairly straightforward in how to send people out and get them on missions, but it seems like there should be a more robust in-game tutorial or something to explain how and why they should be something you do often.
Eric: We’ve have already been working to address this and we completely agree that more attention should be paid towards better explaining the importance of advancing your Order. The Order functions as roughly 1/3 of your character’s potential power and neglecting it can make certain content much more challenging. By not focusing on your Order you miss out on a lot of bonuses like increased health or various customizable secondary stat improvements. Moving forward we hope to make this system much clearer through the game itself.
MMORPG: The last question ties into the idea of “artificially” increasing one’s prestige level too. I know on my Berserker I quickly ran into a wall in the 5000s because though my prestige was there, my DPS and survivability was really not ready to be doing the content I was on. Are there changes being made to stats and prestige to help level this out? I know that I always just took whatever gave me a boost, thinking this was ideal… but it’s not.
Eric: Skyforge can quickly become noticeably more challenging at certain prestige ranges or just when tackling specific content. It’s possible you were doing content marked as “Impossible” for your prestige as well, which can significantly increase the chance of failure. A final thing to note, in that same regard, is that Regions do function similarly to areas in other MMO’s where the start may be “level appropriate” however the further you advance, the higher “level” the region’s creatures become, increasing the region’s difficulty and potentially requiring you to tackle other content or group up with other players before venturing further into the zone.
That said, the Order system specifically provides a large percentage of the players overall health pool. Making sure to advance your provinces when possible adds a lot to your survivability. As you said earlier, just equipping an item because it has a “higher prestige” may not always be the best option. You may come across a ring that has 500 prestige as opposed to your current 400 prestige one, but with a completely different set of stats. Once players recognize that an item which awards more prestige may not possess the stats that complement their current build, they will be able to better prioritize their item choices.
MMORPG: Lots of people seem keen to be able to buy the classes they want to play with first the founder’s packs, and then the collector’s packs. Are you considering letting people do this with other classes a la carte? I understand the idea of obtaining classes, as part of the progression, but I’d love to just give the game $10 to play something I want to play. There’s plenty of progression per class and across the Atlas without needing to chase down each one with sparks.
Eric: We’re not currently discussing the potential to buy classes, however we are aware of the interest players have for this type of feature. While it may not seem like it to everyone, playing one of the starter classes is a very important step to better understanding how to play Skyforge effectively. Allowing an inexperienced player to purchase a rather high maintenance/in-depth class like, for example, the Monk or Witch could actually become overwhelming very quickly.
Additionally, working to unlock other classes is part of how you progress your character. As you work your way through the Atlas you unlock many stat nodes which boost your stats significantly. By purchasing an advance class directly, you skip out on the nodes (and thus the stats) needed to unlock that class.
MMORPG: Speaking of sparks. One of my own personal beefs is that unless I finish an adventure, I don’t get diddly. Life as a dad and a working one at that means I often have to leave or end a mission in the middle. Would you ever consider adding “partial rewards” depending on how far you got?
Eric: Awarding players if they have not finished a mission is not something we’re looking into implementing, but you are still actively receiving rewards for your time in ways other than what’s listed as the mission completion reward. Bosses drop various pieces of equipment, class sparks, and a few other things. This also applies to other mobs throughout each adventure who will sometimes drop Class Sparks and credits as well. These are still effective for your advancement so while you aren’t able to completely finish it, you are still actively rewarded for the time did you spend – just in a different way. Also, when looking at the different missions while in the Divine Observatory, you can see how involved each mission is and how much time on average it will take. This will allow you Dad-like folks to choose missions to fit your availability if it is short.
MMORPG: The open zones are a nice break from the adventures, and really help to enhance the MMO aspects of Skyforge. The downside is that once you do them once, there’s little reason to revisit unless you want the other currencies. Are there any plans to tweak rewards so you can get sparks for completing missions (not whole mission chains) on a more regular basis for those who want to do the open content more often?
Eric: We’re continuing to look into the different activities of the game and there are changes coming down the road for many of the different mechanics and rewards for adventures. We are always taking into account both feedback from players and what we are seeing internally when evaluating player patterns and what they are choosing to participate in. This gives us a lot to account for as we evaluate the different mechanics in play and investigate what changes we want to make.
It should be noted that once players have reached their god form, they will also sometimes be called back to certain Open World regions at random to take on a powerful raid monster in their god form. This is a really cool event which is announced zone-wide and allows other players to assist the god player in defeating the summoned boss.
Other new regions are opened up by venturing into Anomalies and tackling key adventures which open up during the fight against alien invasions.
MMORPG: One last thing – there is SO much gear in the game, and tons of weapons, but the weapons all pretty much look the same. Are there any plans to add more visual differences on weapons? Maybe even more purchasable weapon skins? I don’t mind paying for cosmetics! That’s the best way to monetize a F2P game, I believe.
Eric: Adding more weapons skins as well as additional costumes to help personalize characters is something that is on our radar for sure. Very soon we will begin to steadily release additional costumes over time. Additional weapon skins are something we also have an open and ongoing discussion on and we have plans to add more specialized weapon appearances. We have many great artists and designers so we’re always excited to see what they come up with next!
MMORPG: Thanks again for your time, Eric. Before we go, any parting hints or teases about what’s next for Skyforge?
Eric: We have quite a bit coming in the near future and a lot of it is in motion on when it will be coming. We can say that there are some very intriguing additions coming for Raids, God Forms, and end of mission rewards.