skyforge_beta_notes_feat

The Skyforge dev team wrote up some extensive notes regarding the feedback they’ve received in the first few weeks of the game’s beta test. It contains updates on a lot of the expected topics, like animations, client optimization, tweaking the Ascension Atlas, quality-of-life changes, and an explanation for one of Magicman’s biggest pet peeves: why melee combos are broken so easily when an enemy dies or moves.

But there are two parts of the writeup that I thought were unusual and that show a kind of self-awareness that a lot of games and game developers don’t.

Playing (nice) with others

The shorter of the two is the section titled “Playing with friends of various Prestige level and adventure difficulty.” It’s no secret that a lot of games have taken steps to make it easier for players of various levels to group together. Whether that’s by upscaling or downscaling character levels or greatly reducing or outright eliminating vertical progression, it’s finally becoming obvious to MMO developers that when you get into a multiplayer game, you might want to actually play it with your friends or just random other people – not when you reach max level, but right away.

As such, Skyforge will remove group Prestige requirements for adventures, allow for different difficulties, and offer rewards based on personal Prestige levels in a future beta build. It’s nice that this is being addressed, but it’s still a little puzzling that it took as long as it did. The explanation for why this hasn’t been implemented from the start strikes me as a little dubious:

“As developers we forget about this stuff sometimes, it’s easy to cheat your character up or down to play together or with devs, or to test an adventure.”

That would make sense, if you only were ever a developer for a game and had never, you know, played one. But it’s hard to imagine someone being a developer who had never had the experience of playing an MMO and being frustrated by the inability to group with friends of different levels.

My guess: Some people on the dev team thought it should have been done, and some didn’t, and, based on beta feedback, the side in favor won out. But rather than saying, “Some of us thought keeping players separated was an honestly good idea,” it’s “Oops! Silly us! We just didn’t think about it.”

Limit brakes

None of this would be a problem if, as every MMO developer hopes and dreams, all of a game’s players voraciously consume it, letting it take control of their lives and be their sole source of entertainment – and where they spend their dollars. A decade or so ago, with relatively few gaming options, that might have been how most people played.

But that’s not realistic for a majority of players these days, and it’s a point that the Skyforge dev team realizes and addresses in the longest point in its notes. In fact, they address it in those exact terms when discussing the game’s semi-controversial weekly limits on currency gains:

Skyforge Limits 1

It’s amazing to see a dev team acknowledge this phenomenon, that with more games being available, the chance that one will become a player’s sole obsession is shrinking every day. Yet most games are still designed for the “time whales,” an increasingly smaller percentage of players who are the loudest and, in F2P games, the ones most likely to be “monetary whales,” as well. Still, a game admitting that it doesn’t expect you to give up your life for it is borderline astonishing.

Skyforge Limits 2

It’s a variation on the Awful Idea of limited-time MMOs that I had a few months back, though less restrictive and probably more palatable than the harsh version I came up with. It still remains to be seen if it will be accepted by the Skyforge player base, which is something the dev team admits could be an issue, though it’s trying to address that.

Skyforge Limits 3

There has been, and will be some heated debate regarding the topic, though, if they get the math right, it will only affect a small number of the most hyperactive players; whether it’s a good idea to rankle that group is questionable, but it seems to be a risk the devs are willing to take in order to provide a better experience for the 90+% of players who won’t run up against these limits.

In reality, though, establishing limits on how much an account can earn is present in virtually every MMO – what do you think weekly raid locks are meant to accomplish? Without those, the hardest of the hardcore would blow through raids multiple times and be fully geared in less than a month. It’s not really a new idea, it’s just being implemented in a different way. Other MMOs, mostly imported from Asia, have tried stricter systems to limit gameplay, but I’ve never seen the rationale for it laid out quite so eloquently.

The Skyforge dev team gets that keeping players clumped together so they can play together – the goal of an MMO – is a good thing, even if requires some unorthodox means to do so. What do you think?

the author

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

14 Readers Commented

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  1. lantian on April 2, 2015

    A week, in a game like swtor without the limit i could probably get fully geared in1 day together with my op group, but this game is feeling a lot more like a grind, don’t get me wrong it’s awesome and i like it, but to get something takes a lot more time than in other mmo’s atleast in my opinion

  2. karnaij on April 1, 2015

    I hope it wont be to bad.. i hate to say it i dont have much of a life off of my computer but thats mostly because i live in the middle of no where with very few people my age (about 5 give or take a few) are around to hang out with and even they play games most of the time.. I have a job and for the rest of my day i either go for runs or play on my pc. I hope i dont get super limited like elsword lol i did not like playing pvp non stop or making a new character..

  3. kestas24 on April 1, 2015

    I wonder when did the challenge and team work became enemies of mmo I mean i used too love lineage2 because on retail everything was hard to get and if you finally got it you had that feeling of achievement, but nowadays you even get auto movement and stuff like that or games where you can go from start to end solo. How are you suppose to have fun if you enter a game from monotone life and its as much slow paced as life. As a police officer myself i find very few games actually exciting as my job is pretty full of excitement already.

  4. Caph on April 1, 2015

    I need to add in.. If you are playing one week and you don’t manage to reach your cap, it will transfer over to the next week.

    So example: Week 1 cap is at 10. You only reach 8. So you have 2 left over.
    Week 2, you will have normal cap of 10 but + 2. So that means, if you don’t hit cap you will basically keep increasing that limit and for someone who doesn’t play, well yeah 5+ hours a day, you won’t have an issue with cap. I have been playing 6h+ a day and i reached spark cap in 3 days. BUT I did not reach any of the other caps and so have alot left to do (even if I wont because I wait for obt). So, I still have high hopes and good feelings about the game.

  5. Bambocheur on March 31, 2015

    I agree with you Jason, I am intrigued how the Skyforge team presented this to the public and I’m not really upset about it. It’s a step forward after the step back with the PTW censorship.

  6. zero on March 31, 2015

    Boring generic copy paste shit from super crap devs, prepare for pay ti win shop with subscription.

  7. RyuKaiser on March 31, 2015

    Actually, people were reporting that people were hitting the cap at around Day 3 of casual play, and the very notion you’d agree with them making the dedicated suffer for the casual and trying to force us to play in their time frame is pretty sickening. Ok, I have gallstones, so I can’t eat high fat foods, my diet doesn’t allow it. Clearly no one else should be allowed, and they should be limited to my diet, right?

    Same fallacy logic here, only that in this case, it’s free time, and time is money. You choose to spend your time in these worlds, to give them your attention, and that shouldn’t be punished. I never hated on anyone in Guild Wars 2 for hitting level 80 before I did, or having the best-looking gear in the game. They put in the time and the effort and they clearly deserved it.

    Besides, the credit cap can be bought out using real world money, and premium gives you a 50% increase in everything you get. Given I’m pretty sure this doesn’t get you to cap faster, it means no one will be able to catch up with casual wallet warriors who pay their way to power, they’ll have months of a 50% lead, and with the caps in place, there’s no way to make up for lost ground without paying.

    Try to do some research before you do these sort of topics, as your article seemed to be spitting in the eye of dedicated players, and even glorifying what they’re doing here.

    • Curst on March 31, 2015

      I have a premium and I didn’t get anywhere near the cap in almost a week of not-so-casual play (1-3 hours a day) in Russian live version of the game. You’d have to be not just “dedicated” in order to reach the cap in 3 days, but unhealthily dedicated. In which case the devs are doing you a favor by capping your progression.

      So either your publisher is actually testing things (surprise-surprise, sometimes the DO test various aspects of the game during the beta-test) or those people are overreacting.

      • RyuKaiser on March 31, 2015

        Erm… and if I have the free time to hit that cap if I want to? You have no right to dictate to me the time I can spend on a game. It’s the same fallacy that started that stamina bullshit in Korea. They put it in games to “stop people from grinding till they die”, but in reality, it ended up being some twisted “reverse subscription” that made people dole out tons of money for stamina potions, or for ways to break through the limit or cheat the curve.

        Me? I stopped testing on the first day. And I don’t care how you try to sit there and tell me that this system is somehow good or fair. It’s not. It’s an attempt to force people to premium (Like you) so they can get a leg up on everyone else by paying to succeed and to outdo the cap, while everyone is left behind, even if they have the time, or are willing to put the hard work in.

        So congrats. You won the game by being a wallet warrior. I hope you’re so proud. People will work just as hard, or harder than you, and they’ll lose because you paid and they didn’t. Me? I’m not dealing with it. I dropped Elsword flat on it’s face, I had no problem doing the same here.

        • Curst on April 1, 2015

          Premium does not increasse the weekly cap. Premium is not there so that you can grind more, it’s there so that you can grind less.

          Also, I am very much against Korean “stamina system” in games. However, weekly cap in this game has a few subtle but important differences from it.

          1) You don’t need to worry about hitting the cap, unless you intend to spend something like 6+ hours every day on this game.

          2) It does not lock you out of the game.

          3) There are no ways to buy your way out of this restriction. You can buy credits with real life money even if you’ve hit the credits cap, but this won’t get you anywhere.

          4) This system is, as much as anything else, a protection from players getting bored with the game too quickly.

          • asd on April 1, 2015

            korean cap is there for a very obvious reason, Koreans are addicted to online games. In black dessert there is a 500$ cap, do you see that in NA games? You realize Korean couples have actually let their babies die because they forgot to feed them? Guess what, they were playing lineage 2. Korean cap is there for a reason and it works, google it if you will. I speak nothing but the truth.

      • Coedeed on April 1, 2015

        In what gaming world do you live where 1-3 hours is not casual? That’s even below the typical casual MMORPG player.

        • Curst on April 1, 2015

          What is casual than? A relaxed 24/7 play as opposed to tryhard mode 24/7 play? More than 1-2 hours every day is pretty dedicated to me, while “casual” is closer to “30-60 minutes of playing after work… if I feel like it”. Am I getting old or something? >_>

          • asd on April 1, 2015

            1-3 hours is casual, imo. Most MMORPGS out there require a lot more time than that to be competitive and stay competitive.

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