Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How should NCSoft handle new content?

So I was reading an article over at Gamerzines.com, where someone there had misunderstood an NCSoft rep on their release schedule for new content (a large content update every year, not a full blown xpac annually).  Initially this made me very sad, as I really enjoy when expansions are added to a game.  It shows that the game is alive and well, and that there is enough players that enjoy it to warrant a substantial investment from the developers.  Plus large amounts of new content is always a plus.  Needless to say I was taken back by the NCSoft clarification and walked around with puppy dog eyes for a good few hours (making my co-workers believe they had upset me and causing them to scramble to console me, thereby earning me free gum, HEY!!! free gum is free gum). 

However, the more I thought about games like Aion, where they require people for their PvP endgame to work, would it really be that good to release gigantic new clumps of content to explore?  New weapons, classes, and all that jazz would probably be fine.  But, would releasing large areas for pvp, such as scenarios or new battlefields, abyss expansions, and more forts, just dillute the pvp down to a level that is unenjoyable for anyone?

That was always one of my major faults with PvP in WoW and WAR.  They had scenarios/battlegrounds, but overall they felt disconnected from the overall conflict, and especially in WAR they detracted from the open world pvp.  Often times, the RvR-Lakes were completely devoid of players with the exception of the ocassional zerg that would storm in and take all the keeps in the nearby area.  Battlegrounds in WoW had literally no impact whatsoever on the actual balance of power in the game, they just served as a minigame to earn players points with which to buy new gear.

That is one reason I am very opposed to scenario's in Aion, as I believe that they would detract from the overall war going on between the three factions.  Any expansion they produce needs to make sure that any content they add to enhance PvP does not work to dillute the experience of the original abyss and the forts and relics within them.  One thing I think they can do to enhance this is make possession of the forts a key factor in whatever enhanced pvp areas are made.

One idea I am particularly fond of is a weekly large scale battle over some awesome battle objective in a scenariolike zone that only opens once a week, that grants the winning side a weekly perk (better prices from vendors, lowered soul healing costs, decreased AP death penalty, something actually worth fighting for).  The battle would have npc mortals that could be either commanded or are programmed to follow the highest ranked daevas into battle behind them.  The size and quality of the units at your disposal could be directly linked to the percentage of fortress and artifact control in the abyss, thus actually giving you some reason do defend your forts and possibly even increasing pvp activity in the abyss the closer to the weekly battle it gets. Plus it would also give us a chance to do some Dynasty Warrior style mortal face-pounding.  As mentioned in my previous post, who doesn't like feeling like a crazy badass with a cannon that fires chainsaws?

That is just an idea, but the point remains valid.  It is important that they do not create a system that detracts from the original pvp and the endgame that NCSoft originally intended, but instead works to enhance it in ways that only increase people's enjoyment of all forms of PvP in the game. 

The flipside is also important.  Korean games are notorious for making an adequate endgame and never enhancing it ever again.  They fully expect you to grind out the same fortresses for months or years to come and somehow be happy with the experience.  We call that having no concept of the human attention span, and if they want their game to succeed they will eventually have to add something else for them to do.  While I never have cared enough (or possessed even close to the attention span required) to make it through the grind of one of those games all the way, but the same old same old endgame staring me in the face didn't really push me to get to the top even a little bit.  NCSoft has to make sure that they don't let the content releases happen so infrequently that people become completely bored of the content they have already. 

At this point I really have no clue how NCSoft will treat true content releases (and am sticking my fingers in my ears and going 'lalala" about the Haloween event because I do not consider that an actual content release).  Try not to let me down NCSoft.  I'm a crier...and it will be messy.  Plus, I drink away my problems, and I can't promise I wont make pantsless prank phone calls to your tech support line.

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