Alganon Developer Roundtable #18

Question 1) Alarion asks: "How does the Studies system help to keep "casuals" from being left behind in progression and/or power?"

Hue Henry, Data Design: "Players who put in the effort to gain experience and levels deserve the rewards that come with doing so. It is not our intention to eliminate those rewards, but instead to keep players advancing even if they are unable to invest those hours into playing the game. Imagine two players, Hardcore Hank and Casual Carl. Imagine they both have the same goals. Hardcore Hank is able to dedicate his time and energy into playing, and will be able to earn epic items, buff scrolls, crafting recipes, and other rewards through gameplay. Carl, on the other hand, does not have the time to farm these items. Both players, since they have the same goals, undertake the same studies, and advance in their studies at exactly the same rate.

As the two advance through their studies, they both gain powerful rewards and access to items, quests, and other gameplay elements. Hank gains rewards he could not have gained through play alone. Carl gains the same rewards. While most of these rewards are upgrades for both, some of these elements are merely cosmetic for Hardcore Hank; he has already advanced to the same level through gameplay and would be making an equal-swap to the new rewards. For Carl, however, these elements are upgrades, and give him the bonus he needs to step into the fray alongside Hank.

In this way, the studies are rewarding for both, allow Hank to be rewarded for his efforts, but also allow Hank to close the gap and continue to play alongside his friend.

Josef Shindler, Data Design: Although players who choose to improve specific stats (like damage or survivability) can do so, the study system also unlocks additional content when you deeply pursue a subject. There are some pieces of gear that cannot be crafted unless you know a specific study. There are items that cannot be used until you've studied how to use it. There are quest lines, instances, items, pets, even emotes that can be studied and unlocked. As long as you choose these elements of study, you are guaranteed access to this content when you choose to pursue it. A hardcore player who plays twice as much will not be able to match the options of a casual player who has been around twice as long."

Question 2) Fervent asks: "Will we be able to use SMS to do thinks like queuing up Studies while not in game?"

Hue Henry, Data Design: "At launch, the starting and queuing of studies will be available only in game. We are looking at the possibility of integrating this with the site and SMS messaging. However, this opens opportunities for players to completely automate their studies and never log in to the game. While this is good for us financially, (accepting subscriptions of players who don't actually play is good for the pocketbook) we want to do a detailed analysis of how it will affect the "fun factor" before we make an official decision. Fun comes first."

Josef Shindler, Data Design: "Studies have a number of rules and restrictions. This seems like a good question to fill you in on how studies work in general.

* Only one character per account can be studying at a time.
* If the player attempts to begin a study on one character when they are already studying on another, they will be prompted if they want to pause the other character's studies to begin the study on the current character.
* If a study completes on one character and there is nothing in the queue, it will begin to study (if available) the paused/queued study on the last character to have a study updated/added.
* This also applies if the player stops studying on one character and studies are queued on other characters.
* Study completions will be sent to MyAlganon, and can be broadcast via SMS, etc.
* A player can queue multiple studies, so that one study will begin when a previous study has ended."

Question 3) Syndic asks: "What plans are in place to keep players in the higher levels entertained while they wait for new content to be released?

Hue Henry, Data Design: "When Alganon launches our players will already be taking part in a game-wide event that will open and unlock additional content. This massive event will require players to work together as a game-wide community to complete quests, craft items, and defeat powerful creatures in order to open content for all future players.

This process of players actively working to open new content will be a regular feature as Alganon expands! Our players are the heroes of this world - it is our players, and not NPCs, that will bring about cataclysmic changes to the game world. Players who participate in these events will have a chance to become a part of the official lore of the world. We plan to name places, items, and place markers in honor of the players who unlock this content and make it available for everyone.

Watch our forums and news as we post additional information on how players (and guilds) will be able to earn a place in the official lore of Alganon!"

Question 4) Aphrox asks: "Is crafting actually going to be useful or is the primary source of new gear going to be loot drops like most other MMOs?

Hue Henry, Data Design: "Yes! Crafted gear is very useful. Crafted gear covers the same range of usefulness as looted gear. There are items that are easy to craft (and to learn the recipes for) that are equivalent to the average loot dropped by creatures, and there is difficult to craft gear (which may require rare materials, large quantities of materials, and/or studies to create) that is equivalent to the highest level raid gear. Our philosophy is that crafting should provide an alternative means of acquiring the same level rewards as raiding.

Since crafting skill and player level are independent, it is possible that the choices you make in game may result in one of the two leveling faster than the other. You may find yourself making items you cannot yet equip, or find yourself too powerful for the gear you make to be of personal value, however, you will never find yourself making gear that is useless. You will want to check the consignment house for players seeking out the gear you craft, or place them on the auction house to be purchased by players of the appropriate level. Players who have the salvaging skill will seek out crafted goods, as they can break these items down into the magical elements needed to create the most powerful items.

Also, every crafting profession is able to create items that are useful to all classes. A blacksmith is valuable to more than just a soldier. Magi, healers, and rangers will often seek out the services of a skilled blacksmith. Our goal is to make all crafting professions valuable to all classes."