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Latest patch - Is Alganon moving in the right direction?

rhinokrhinok Member UncommonPosts: 1,798

Warning - long post:

On 10/06/2010 Alganon was patched up to version 2.3.1.2373.  In a nutshell, the patch was mostly bug/design fixes with one exception: Dual RolesGear Sets were introduced and players now have the ability to purchase additional roles/abilities for those roles using Tribute (cash shop). Simply put, you can swap out sets of gear on the fly.  You also swap out roles, which are defined by the abilities to which you've allocated points. Imagine being a Champion and having DPS or Protection builds, or a Mystic who swaps between a group-friendly healing build or a DPS build.

In general, the patch is okay.  Bug/design fixes are always good. Also, the new dual roles/gear sets feature is pretty neat.  That being said, the patch was a little underwhelming:


  • Issues - the bugs/design issues fixed were all relatively minor.

    • To Quest Online's credit, their Lead CSGM mentioned patching fixes being worked on and coming soon(ish):


      In Topic:Servers Down For The Newest Patch

      Posted 6 Oct 2010

      View Postbeloit551, on 06 October 2010 - 06:41 AM, said:



      and still no pathing fix :(




       

      If all goes according to plan, our goal is to have your worries fixed up next patch. ;) I don't normally give a time frame, but this will be an important fix and I want to point out that we're close. Please keep in mind that it's not a simple one in the slightest, so we're balancing getting it out with getting it right.

  • Dual Roles/Gear Sets

    • There doesn't appear to be a hotkey for swapping out roles/gear sets on the fly. This seems like a major oversight. 

    • The only way to purchase an additional role/set is to do so through the abilities form in game - there's no item you can purchase directly through the tribute market.

    • Having to purchase additional roles/sets brings up other questions:

      • Is Alganon heading down the Pay-to-Win road?

      • The revenue model needs tweaking, IMO.  This adds an additional purchase option, but doesn't address what I personally consider to be more important issue with the revenue model.

Looking at some of the questions specifically:

  • Issues:

    • Perhaps the worst offenders are the horrible pathing and geometry problems.  If Quest Online is able to resolve these issues, then that is a major step in the right direction, at least as far as game mechanics go. There are a lot of issues with Alganon, so any progress towards resolving them is a good thing.

  • Pay-to-Win:

    • As of today, there's no PvP in Alganon.  As such, it doesn't really matter if players buy stat-boosting gear, addition roles/sets, etc.  That being said, PvP is in the works. Per Derek Smart:

      Posted 27 August 2010 - 04:32 AM

      View PostWarwench, on 23 August 2010 - 09:48 AM, said:



      #1 thing that popped out though, and something for the devs to consider is just about everyone commented on the character models, animations and combat. These 3 should be your next big fixes (along side revamping healing and other things).






      They're not on our list of priorities at this point because there are other more important things (e.g. PvP, localization, improved server model etc) to do. All those three things work just fine, some may not like them, but that's irrelevant because its not like they're game breaking or whatever.

       

      So no, I don't envision any changes to character models, animations or even combat in the short term (definitely not in 2010 or early 2011). 
      So, knowing PvP is in the works, is Alganon heading down the "Pay-to-win" path?  As of today, you can buy the following items that could influence competitive action:

      • Potions

      • Elixers that last 10 hours

      • Talismans

      • Dual Roles/Gear sets

        • To Quest Online's credit, swapping gives you a 50% Health/Focus penalty, so don't do it in the middle of battle once PvP hits.  Still, this item gives a player twice the tactics/gear to choose from before heading into battle

      • Weapons and gear

        • In today's market, you can buy a full basic set of blue gear: Here's a comparison of my Level 30 Ranger's current gear to what comes in a level 30 blue gear box (click to see full size image!): Click to see full size image As you can see, the purchased set is generally much better than my normally acquired gear.  Add in the pieces that are missing from the purchased set and the stats are impressive.

        • Epic Gear! Youcan purchase random boxes with Epic gear that's even better, assuming you can use the piece you get...

      • As you can see, there's quite a bit one can purchase that could boost stats enough to give a significant advantage during a one-on-one PvP battle.  Higher Attack Power, dodging, defense and significantly higher HP are all easily possible...  That should be a major concern for all PvPers when PvP goes live!  This is something I don't particularly care for, personally, and would tend to categorize as Pay-to-win..

  • Current Revenue Model - personally, I take exception to the current revenue model.  I'm not against RMT, but I just don't think it's well designed and I don't think it supports what I personally consider to be a true F2P model.. In my personal opinion, a "true F2P" must adhere to the following rules:

    • The client must be free - if there's a cost barrier to enter the game, the the "game" isn't "free"

    • The whole "game" must be free.  What's the "game"? All basic "content", which includes quests, levels and zones.

    • No "pay to win" sales - If the game offers PvP, then either the credit shop should not offer items that give a paying player a competitive advantage over a non-paying player or said items should be disabled during competition

  • Ripper's Revenue Model Vision - As mentioned in the "How is Alganon Staying Afloat" thread, I think there are things that could be done to improve the revenue model, per my own personal vision:

    • Having to pay to chat is going to turn off most players right from the beginning.

    • There are pets that can be unlocked via studies and with in-game currency, which would be great for a p2p or GW model, but not for F2P.  Pets are highly coveted cash shop items.  Convert non-combat pets to cash shop items, IMO.

    • Same with mounts.  They're not critical to play, but for convenience, which makes them perfect for the Tribute Market.

    • Get rid of stat boosting gear in the shop and concentrate on maintenance items, such as bags, bank space, mounts and convenience items, such as exp potions/scrolls, personal waypoint scrolls so you can pop in and out of the same spot, etc...

    • Focus on collector's items, such as holiday gear sets - those are highly coveted items, too. Look how popular they are in games like Wizard101 - players (and not just kids) eat that stuff up!

As to the original question - is the game moving in the right direction? In my opinion, it looks like both Yes and No:

  • Yes - Quest Online seems focused on improving the actual play experience

  • No - Quest Online don't seem to be focused on changing their revenue model.

Both, I think, are critical to their ability to not only continue, but to succeed in attracting and retaining a large enough volume of players to recoup their investment and become profitable.


 


~Ripper

Comments

  • eyeswideopeneyeswideopen Member Posts: 2,414

    How do you sell all these new store items when there's noone to buy them? This is the question the investors should be asking Derek Smart.

    In answer to your question, no. I don't think they're headed in the right direction currently.

    Bug fixes should have been a priority from the beginning, not now and only second to cash shop shit.

    That quote by Derek shows you exactly what kind of "businessman" he really is. His only focus is getting money in his ( and QOLs) pocket in the shortest amount of time possible.

    Anyone familiar with his Battlecruiser games already know this, however. "Screw the bugfixes, pump out more crap! That'll hook 'em!" Well, we see how "successful" those games were.

    PvP is a long way off if they're doing it right and making sure to balance everything accordingly and have enough variety in the PvP rather than just free-for-all and duels. Putting off polishing and bugfixing to focus on something not even here yet is ridiculous.

    The first thing that should have been addressed concurrently with bugfixing should have been those character and combat animations and whatnot.

    If a player cannot become attached to their character because the character walks/runs like a spastic headless chicken, they leave shortly. If combat is not smooth, regardless if it's "working", players leave for games that have "better combat".

    When you are running a clone of a game, and there are other clones of that game, you damned well better have at LEAST the polish of those other clones in terms of graphic assets, animations, combat fluidity, etc. Otherwise, why play something you can get elsewhere in better shape, and for less money?

    -Letting Derek Smart work on your game is like letting Osama bin Laden work in the White House. Something will burn.-
    -And on the 8th day, man created God.-

  • rhinokrhinok Member UncommonPosts: 1,798

    For the most part, I agree with your comments.  If the game was more polished and less buggy, I doubt it'd be in the position it is - having an almost non-existent population, poor reviews and a poor reputation.

    With most studios, the person adding credit shop assets, like Halloween costumes, isn't the person doing coding and bug fixing, so I would generally take exception to the comments regarding adding credit shop items. For the most part, it's just art and artists aren't necessarily developers. That being said, the dual roles/gear sets credit shop service was added as part of new features added to the game, which require a developer. While I think the dual roles/gear sets are cool, I would definitely argue that they should not have been added prior to things like  pathing and geometry fixes.  Quest Online needs to concentrate on fixing what's in the game today (bugs, design issues, geometry, etc...), then worry about new features.

    Regarding the models and animations, specifically, I wonder if there's less of a push to improve them because they were developed remotely by a Romanian start-up studio (Heavyworks Studio - as far as I know, Alganon is their only public product) and whether or not Quest Online still has a good working relationship with them?

    As for the clone comments, not being a dedicated WoW player, I personally don't know if it's a clone or not, gameplay wise (irrespective of the alleged UI copy/paste issues).  I would definitely agree that it's a fairly standard fantasy MMO, though, and in my "First Impressions.." post, I questioned if that was "enough":


    Is there anything unique enough about it that's so visible and well executed that it makes Alganon stand out from other MMOs?  Not that I've experienced. So, while it's a fun game with potential, is that enough for it to succeed?

    ~Ripper

  • rhinokrhinok Member UncommonPosts: 1,798

    What do I mean by significantly higher HP?  The purchased set has 71 End, 54 more than my same set pieces at level 30.  A character gains 10 HP/End point, which means a level 30 ranger with the purchased set will have 540 more HP from the same gear slots than I would! This is a big deal, considering I only have 970 HP right now...

    ~Ripper

  • nynnivanynniva Member UncommonPosts: 235

    I too was a bit upset to see the tribute cost on the dual role implementation; I understand the game needs revenue, but it seems to me that it would make a lot more sense to improve the game experience enough to have a LOT of population, and then allow numbers to work in your favor - if you have 1000 people, and only 10% buy something, you're making more money than if you have 10 people and 50% buy something.

    Seems to me that you can 'buy' better gear, you can 'buy' talismans to improve that gear, now you can 'buy' dual roles, not to mention 'buying' level cap increase, ability cap increase, the ability to chat, etc. - all of which would seem to be items that should be included in your normal play experience. Leave the dye, pets, xp boosts, special mounts, etc. in the item shop as they are nonessentials. Making ESSENTIAL things pay-to-play discourages new population and overpowers the cash shop.

    I started playing Alganon back before the f2p model, when it was 20$, play forever, which is fine and I've certainly gotten my money's worth and enjoyment out of the game. However, the 20$ I paid was supposed to be for all the game content, now they're trying to get me for more money for dual roles, talismans, etc. which aren't really so much 'extras' as they are part of the game experience. Dye is extra. A cool mount, is extra. I think QoL needs to take a long hard look at what is necessary for the average player and what can be considered optional. No, dual role is not 'necessary', however, making it cost about half of the game's purchase price is a bit silly.

    I'd suggest serious adjustments to the above, as well as allowing tribute items to be traded within game so that those who do not have access to credit cards and such can still play the game to its fullest - a huge chunk of potential population is gone right there with people who either cannot (or are not willing to) spend money on a game that essentially is forcing you to spend money to progress.

    Gaming? That's not gaming!
    That's just people sat 'round in costumes drinking...

  • rhinokrhinok Member UncommonPosts: 1,798

    Originally posted by nynniva

    I too was a bit upset to see the tribute cost on the dual role implementation; I understand the game needs revenue, but it seems to me that it would make a lot more sense to improve the game experience enough to have a LOT of population, and then allow numbers to work in your favor - if you have 1000 people, and only 10% buy something, you're making more money than if you have 10 people and 50% buy something.

    Seems to me that you can 'buy' better gear, you can 'buy' talismans to improve that gear, now you can 'buy' dual roles, not to mention 'buying' level cap increase, ability cap increase, the ability to chat, etc. - all of which would seem to be items that should be included in your normal play experience. Leave the dye, pets, xp boosts, special mounts, etc. in the item shop as they are nonessentials. Making ESSENTIAL things pay-to-play discourages new population and overpowers the cash shop.

    I started playing Alganon back before the f2p model, when it was 20$, play forever, which is fine and I've certainly gotten my money's worth and enjoyment out of the game. However, the 20$ I paid was supposed to be for all the game content, now they're trying to get me for more money for dual roles, talismans, etc. which aren't really so much 'extras' as they are part of the game experience. Dye is extra. A cool mount, is extra. I think QoL needs to take a long hard look at what is necessary for the average player and what can be considered optional. No, dual role is not 'necessary', however, making it cost about half of the game's purchase price is a bit silly.

    I'd suggest serious adjustments to the above, as well as allowing tribute items to be traded within game so that those who do not have access to credit cards and such can still play the game to its fullest - a huge chunk of potential population is gone right there with people who either cannot (or are not willing to) spend money on a game that essentially is forcing you to spend money to progress.

    Thanks for the feedback, nynniva. I have two thoughts based on your comments:


    1. Dual roles were supposed to be in the game from the beginning.  Per the Dec 1, 2009 news blurb from Heavyworks Studio regarding the Alganon launch:


      ALGANON

          Dec 01st,2009

       


      image









       


      Alganon is a Fantasy-Based MMORPG that allows thousands of people to play together in a virtual world that features a rich history dominated by commanding deities, powerful weapons and armor, deadly magic, epic quests, ancient places to discover, the utilization of detailed trade skills, and more. Advanced features of the game include an in-game database called The Library, Studies that grow your character's capabilities while offline, Families you can join that allow grouping beyond your guild, Consignment capabilities for an expansive and proactive crafting system, Dual Roles so your characters fit into groups better, and much more.
      Had they been in when you paid $20, they would have been included.  Months later, however, they're being bolted on as an after-the-fact Tribute Market service.  That seems wrong.

    2. To be fair, the game accepts Zeevex tokens for Tribute Market purchases.  Zeevex cards are sold at retailers throughout the United States.

    ~Ripper

  • nynnivanynniva Member UncommonPosts: 235

    Yeah, I've never seen and/or heard of a Zeevex. The game doesn't accept paypal either, and even if you do make 1-time purchases from the shop, there's no way to 'un-save' your credit card info from their website. This deters a lot of potential business.

    I think the bottom line is, more players = good, because even if the majority of players never purchase anything, their existence on the servers, playing, etc. makes the content more enjoyable and more doable for everyone else, which encourages people who DO have the money and inclination to buy things to do so.

    The last couple of patches for Alganon have brought a LOT of changes to the board, class improvements and such, seemed like things were looking up. But I fear that the free-to-play restrictions are a bit too harsh and more and more new tribute items are getting added to the game as opposed to more content that everyone can experience. While the 'pay to win' aspect hasn't reached the drastic levels of some other games on the market, its certainly looking to be heading in that direction. Talismans alone aren't game-breaking, but allowing people with money to spam-farm ToF instances and change roles at will is really starting to make the game look that way.

    Logging in to each server/side you don't see more than 5-6 people online, and 90% of the time those are not high-level, the population needs to be seriously addressed so that the content can even be experienced. With the recent quests added to the mid/high level range it is now possible to get to the level cap in about a weeks time if you spend some time with it, I would say a month at the outside for the casual player. But people aren't levelling up. They aren't staying. Adding more crap for people to spend $$ on isn't going to result in player retention. Making the stuff you spend $$ on MORE overpowering is only going to upset people who don't want to 'pay to win' which will not result in player retention.

    A dual role costs 1800 tribute, for one character. That's half what THE ENTIRE GAME used to cost, or a third of what it costs now to buy the 'superpack' to unlock all the stuff that should be free anyway, like the ability to use chat, or level beyond 30, and such.

    1800 tribute for a dual role is ridiculous. Especially since, if as you indicate, it was intended to be included from the beginning. Just like 25-30$ for a mount, is ridiculous, when the in-game purchasable equivalents are just as fast. 1800 would MAYBE (still questionable) be worth it if it unlocked dual roles for ALL characters on your account, but even then it is questionable.

    If you wanted to buy a full set of gear, put talismans in it, buy a second role for your character, buy the level cap, ability to chat, ability cap, gold cap, mount etc. you can easily spend 100$ just to play the game on the same level it could be played prior to the F2P. I strongly feel that basic game amenities to make it playable (ie level cap, chat, etc.) should NOT be tied to the cash shop.

    Now, all of this sounds very disgruntled, but the fact is, I do love Alganon, I think its a great game, and I still enjoy it. Its very upsetting to me to see the way things are going. It isn't that I'm unwilling to spend money on a game or product that I enjoy, but with the population levels steadily sinking (I was the ONLY person online at all on Adrios human side the other night, during what you'd think would be prime time) its hard to justify investing anything more at this point.

    Gaming? That's not gaming!
    That's just people sat 'round in costumes drinking...

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