…this is from an NPC’s dialogue, did you know. Took me a long time to realize where I picked it up from.
Right, anyway. There was a lot of tension since last time, so there’s a lot to unpack. I’ve also written more than my fair share on these subjects across platforms already, so please excuse my abridging here and there. I’m mostly trying to avoid tendonitis.
Perhaps the most heated topic of the days, so let’s start here. For the unaware, our last hotfix patch included a drop rate reduction. To be more specific, a drop rate buff retraction. The relevant line reads, verbatim:
“An old buff to generic Champion and boss treasures has been reverted.”
So, this caused quite an upheaval. Between that and another change, to be discussed below, many players alleged a serious spike in early-game difficulty – which our resident .yio had to explore.
To begin to untangle this, my relevant Discord announcement stated this:
“Outside of the issues with the Explorer’s dungeon, this hotfix includes a few of the changes we wanted to include in the last patch but were unable to.”
So this is where the issue begins. Was it wise to include this change into a hotfix that addressed another issue? Probably not, and I’ll be the first to admit this. Still, I cannot stress enough how overworked we’ve been – so for this I must ask for some understanding. We’re already testing a solution for this, a propos.
Now, was it tested? Yes, it was. Perhaps not as extensively as we normally would – but that’s only because we were simply reverting to Flagship’s own original drop rates, which we’ve had on live before.
Next, what was the exact intent behind this? The next relevant line, that spawned its own confusion, reads as follows:
“This change intends to make Legendary-grade items drop slightly less often across the game, while allowing Luck to affect them more linearly and predictably.”
So, the “slightly” part fueled some of the above allegations. This was my phrasing, so with this comes another apology. This intended to convey an endgame player’s perception of this change, as in my tests it was indeed slight. However, this does not fully reflect a player’s perception “across the game”. Still, the intent was indeed for a “slight” reduction, as our own new content, AB changes, and other density buffs had brought resource acquisition to massively higher rates than Flagship’s original vision intended.
Finally, still on this line, was this intending to force players to use Luck? Absolutely not. Here I may just clarify what this means.
Luck is a desirable property for many – for full disclosure, I’m not one of those players. Still, what our drop rate buff did, functionally, was it obscured Luck’s exact effects (ie the reduction/elimination of white drops, and nothing else). Reverting this intended to make Luck’s effects more consistent and observable, not to enforce players to use Luck.
Adjacent to general drop rates, before we reach the aforementioned performance issue, come Australia drop rates. For the unaware, this dungeon launched with very low drop rates – and now has massive drop rates. Imagine, players reached out about high drop rates; the first time I’ve ever seen this, ever.
So, both of those fall squarely on me. That’s because…
I’m not a dev.
Really, that’s all there is to it. Between my inexperience and our testers’ unavailability, this dungeon failed to land where it needed to. Addressing this is in the works too, yes.
Oh, for that matter; the dungeon intentionally doesn’t award exp. Let me repeat that; this intends to allow you to farm lower item grades without outleveling them. If you feel this makes the rewards minimal, especially for such a hard dungeon, you may safely skip it; it was always meant to be an optional, party-oriented dungeon.
(For those who do run it, I wrote the first guide on it the other day. Cheers!)
So back to overall performance, then comes the recent Imp buff. This line laconically reads:
“Imp Snipers of all kinds will attack more aggressively.”
Now this one was quite intentional too, so let me clarify this too. The concept of this change was to make these enemies more challenging, while also promoting player responses to their AI; dash at them and firing ceases, as they harmlessly whack you with their guns’ grips. If that doesn’t suffice for crowds, pump up defense and/or party up – that was the intent, in a nutshell.
Now, is it perfect? We thought so, as it added challenge from practically lv1 to lv50 (and .yio’s research corroborates the early-game part). Some of you disagree though, bringing up some fair points for specific classes - so this one is being discussed as well.
Finally, this one relates to an issue that’s not even acted on yet. For the unaware, in Hellgate lingo a “taxi” involves the practice of using party portals to bring players to areas they normally don’t have access to. Ie, “taxi”. Our intent to fix this exploit resurfaced, and so did some, um, heated dicussions.
The issue with this one, then, is that it enables powerleveling. It lets players bypass dangerous areas, overlevel them (typically with powerlevel help), and return when it’s safe to. As it does, it introduces some risk of breakage, as regards quest prereqs and progression – but that’s rather uncommon, to be fair.
So, this sparked a huge discussion. Convenience, ethics, what have you. In the briefest of terms, this is a very long-standing exploit; it’s not a “feature”, nor is it intended.
Still, we asked what makes this exploit appealing. To copy my closing statement on this, as it reflected my position better than this entry can:
“I can certainly sympathize with those who like them as a player - I also reset quest bosses for convenience on live, for example, despite it falling into the same broader category. From a “staff” perspective, however, I cannot willingly let a clear exploit remain, despite it having always been there, or it being convenient, or it constituting a bandaid solution to other problems.
Still, that’s not to say I’m engaging out of some shade of schadenfreude, asking for arguments for an outcome I can’t likely accept no matter its positives. Rather, my intent is to identify exactly which problems this exploit addresses and which agreeable conveniences it provides, so as to negotiate those and address them at the same time as the exploit is disabled. The point is not, after all, to simply inconvenience players and take an option away, unintended as it is. It is to “enforce” specific gameplay boundaries, yes, but also to iron out the flaws that made it so desirable or needed in the first place. And for that I’ll need said negotiations.”
This should, hopefully, cover this final issue. We do intend to eventually remove this exploit, because that’s what it is. At the same time, however, we will try to address the game’s shortcomings that made it appealing, reaching a better, “natural” state.
And now, the obligatory future section!
Well, between the above issues and the holiday season approaching, we couldn’t take that much-needed break after all. So, here’s what’s being worked on now, without major spoilers:
- Fixes. First, fixes related to the above issues, and a couple others here and there. Perhaps some QoL conveniences while we’re at it.
- Items. A few of our newcomer baddies don’t carry shiny enough loot, and some classes need some more tools for some specific encounters. So a few new items there shall be.
- A Christmas event. We’ll try to get together a Christmas event, as Flagship intended. If we succeed, many of you will see their festive hat for the first time.
- Events. Tireless Alternalo is now working on global events, because this time it became crystal-clear the players love events. Can’t say when those will be done, but so far they look deliciously dangerous.
- The expansions. Speaking of, Alternalo is now at a solid place with his brainchild expansion. It’s nowhere near ready, but it’s shaping up well. At the same time, I’m returning to the drawing board with mine, as we have a better understanding of what we need to accomplish with it – and can use assets more creatively to deliver a better end result.
And there you have it, dear diary. These were some unpleasant, restless times. But on we go, hopefully to better places - like the Broker.
Until next time, all the best.