The weekly cap on sparks -- which puts a limit on the most obvious form of character development -- in Skyforge is a topic that's gotten plenty of people riled up. Today, the Skyforge devs put out a blog post explaining how characters can continue to progress after the limit has been reached and serving as more in-depth rundown of the benefits of the Order system.
The blog post essentially boils down to this:
"It was clear to us that we were unable to convey how significant this element truly was as it not only allows for continued play, but unlocks a noticeable portion of a player’s potential power as well."
while describing the different ways that the resources you gain after hitting the spark cap can be fed back into your Order and increase your character's strength. I haven't hit the sparks cap yet in my time playing Skyforge, but I can agree with the sentiment that the Order system is a little confusing and difficult to fully grasp. Does it compare to the power increases you'll get from unlocking new nodes in the Ascension Atlas? Probably not, but I suppose it's something.
The Allods Team might be right about how they were "unable to convey" the Order's importance, but I wouldn't lay that entirely at their feet. MMO players have a very narrow perception of how MMOs just are, especially in terms of questing and progression, and if you put one "normal" system in place, they'll gravitate toward that while virtually ignoring any other system. The Ascension Atlas is a little weird, but not too hard to figure out, and it does have similar precedents (Path of Exile, Final Fantasy X), so that's naturally what people are going to think is the "only" -- or at least the quickest -- way to progress.
But how many of us have played MMOs with dynamic events and tended to ignore them because we're rushing to the next objective? That happens a lot in Guild Wars 2 and Rift, in my experience, because we're taught in countless MMOs that the "best" way to progress is to go to that guy with the punctuation mark over his head and do what he wants; other stuff just gets in the way. The same applies to endgame. If raids are an option, that's what most people will do, even if there are other options, because they're used to raids and they know what to expect from them.
To put it simply, if an MMO is going to provide means of advancement or gameplay modes that are different from the usual -- pretty much anything beyond killing monsters as directed by an NPC -- it has to be blindingly obvious that they're worth doing, or most players will ignore them and stick with what they know. I thought the Order system was just a nice little add-on to Skyforge that provided a few bonuses here and there, similar to World of Warcraft's garrison system, so it didn't require a ton of attention. But if it's being pushed as a major tool for advancement, then it probably needs greater emphasis so it can actually be noticed by players.
About 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.
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