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RvR Quartermasters – Token System for WAR

April 8, 2009

So by now, everyone’s had a chance to read up on the proposed Token system Mythic has decided to test out to calm the angry masses of people that say they never get loot.  (Ironically, they’ll probably still be complaining when they never get to loot the high-level tokens, but hey.)  If you haven’t read about it yet, the full write-up is here in the Dev Discussion portion of the Official Forums.

Seeing as how I love to discuss the underlying motivations in games like this, I figured I’d pick apart their system and get a feel for what it might do to the game.  (I could pick apart the horrid grammar and punctuation in their posting, but that would just be too easy. :p )

I’m going to pause right here and say that I’m a foundations type of person.  By that, I mean that when trying to make an MMO great, you should start with the basic foundation and make sure it’s solid before adding stuff to it.  (ie:  You don’t repaint your ceiling to make it look good when you’ve got a water leak upstairs.  You fix the leak first.)  If you truly want to fix the motivation issues surrounding RvR, you need to start with the foundation.  In this case, what is it that makes people want to take over Keeps/Forts? Renown, Experience, Loot.  No, I didn’t list Influence.  Why?  Because Influence just gets you Loot and that’s already there.  These are all Extrinsic rewards, meaning they’re tangible in a manner of speaking.  They’re something given to you by the game as a reward for doing what the developers wanted you to do.  Extrinsic rewards are THE major motivating factor for the masses.  Sure, there are players that are motivated by things like Fun, Pride, Honor, Respect, etc (Intrinsic Rewards), but those players don’t hit Pass on all the loot, do they?  ’nuff said.   

  1. System Summary and Goals
  2. Medallions and Crests (the Tokens)
  3. Earning Medallions and Crests
  4. Buying Items
  5. Summary, Gaar’s Observations and a look at trade-in values on Test

System Summary and Goals

Let’s start at the beginning with the System Summary.  Right away they say this is supposed to be an alternative to the current Gold Bag system for obtaining gear.  It will also provide rewards that aren’t obtainable elsewhere that can be used in RvR.  So it reads like they want to add new RvR consumables (as if we didn’t have enough junk to carry around already) at the same time as trying to make up for the issues surrounding the whole PQ-Bag mechanic in place in Keeps/Forts and this is how they’re trying to do it.

They then move to the System Goals.  Let’s look at each one in turn.

1.  Incentive RvR performance and participation – See what I mean about grammar?  Anyway, the gist of this is that they want to reward not just participation in RvR, but our performance.  Hmmm…this could be a problem, but we’ll get back to it later when we talk about Fort defenses.

2.  Expand RvR rewards by adding things that improve performance – Fine on the surface, but it sounds a lot like the aforementioned coat of paint.

3.  Award all players for participation, regardless of luck or contribution – Wha…wha…what?  Sigh.  ~ducks the paint bucket~

4.  Provide alternate path to items that gate later content – I can’t help but read “alternate” as “easier” at this point, but that will depend on trade-in values.

5.  Help offset Bad Luck – Didn’t they say this already?  ~looks at #3~  Yup, they did.  Guess they ran out of goals.

Medallions and Crests (the Tokens)

So there’s currently four types of Medallions, one for each Tier, and there’s four types of Crests based on end-game Armor Sets.  Medallions can be stored up and traded up to the next level of Medallion until you hit the T4 type, but Crests can only be broken down into lower versions.

I have to say, I think they got this part right.  The ability to save up the lower Medallions complements the speed with which you move through Tiers while making sure your hard-earned tokens don’t go to waste.  The ability to break down the Crests to purchase gear you can use right now makes much more sense than you just having to bank them until you reach that level.  By the time you need the next level of gear, you’ll have been out earning more of the appropriate-level Crests anyway.

I like that you can’t trade-up from Medallions to Crests, or even from one Crest to the next.  You actually still have to participate in that level of RvR to get that Crest.  That is very important in this type of game.  No one wants to see someone farm Medallions from Keeps and BOs while never setting foot in a City and ending up with full sets of end-game gear.

One limitation I can see so far is that you can’t break down Medallions into lower-level versions.  I know that sounds strange, but if you look at player behavior in-game, you’ll see lots of people that hit *8 for their level and jump up to the next Tier to level faster.  This includes participating in RvR and earning tokens under this system.  However, those tokens will be useless for them until they actually get to a higher level.  Now maybe this is Mythic’s way to discourage participating in the next Tier of RvR before you’re high enough to use the rewards, but I don’t think it’s going to stop that behavior at all and there’s better ways to do that anyway.  Instead, let people break down the higher Tier Medallions into ones they can use to properly outfit themselves.  Additionally, Tomeaholics like myself will then be able to complete those lower-level PvP Armor Sets without taking bags/tokens away from l0wer-level players as chickens.  :p  I think this is a much easier change to the system than adding price options using higher-Tier Medallions.

The other limitation I see is space.  If these are to be used as currency and are non-tradeable, why not store them like currency?  Instead of going thru the trouble of creating tangible items that take up precious space, code them into the game like brass/silver/gold.  At the very least, create a Medallion/Crest Inventory like the Quest Inventory.  I’ve got too much crap in my bags as it is, especially if you’re adding new RvR supplements to the game.  Throw us a bone here Mythic.  (They said this may come in the future, but it should just flat come with it when it goes live.)  And while you’re at it, give me my extra bag for hitting 40 you reference in your loading screen tip.

Earning Medallions and Crests

One quick thing to note: Mythic states they are listing the most common ways to obtain tokens while saying there are numerous ways to do so.  I really, really hope there aren’t ways to get these in PvE as that would undermine the entire purpose of a system like this.  But moving on…

Ways to get Medallions/Crests:  Player kills, Keep captures, Zone captures, Fortress captures, Fortress defenses (uh oh), unlocking the Capital city, completing the City PQs

Well now, we get to a meaty portion of this new system.  Let’s be honest, Earning and Spending are the two things the majority of players are going to care about when it comes to this system, so it better be rock-solid or there’s gonna be some ‘splainin to do…  I’m going to discuss each of the given methods separately because, frankly, some are going to need some time to review.

Player Kills - The very heart of RvR.  At first glance, it looks solid.  Players in each Tier drop the appropriate Medallion.  Players with RR over 40 have a chance to drop the high-end Crests.  Not a hard addition to the game as the RvR Boots already follow this method of distribution.  However, there’s already contention regarding these drops and they haven’t even hit Live yet.  High RR players already want to make it so lower RR players can’t loot the high-end Crests and the Devs say they’re looking into it.  Seriously?  Stop for a second and think.  For a lower RR player to have a chance to loot this item instead of the high RR player, they have to be grouped with them…  Am I the only one that sees the hypocrisy here?  The low RR player is good enough to fight alongside you and help you kill someone, but apparently they’re not deserving of your precious shiny, is that it?  If that change to the system goes into Live, this system will fail at its very core tenet which is to reinforce and reward performance and participation.  If a low RR player participates and performs at a level sufficient to kill a high RR player, they should be rewarded by the system.  Period.  I hold out hope on this issue as Mythic already stated they based the system on people being able to pre-earn tokens which tells me they see where I’m coming from here.

That isn’t the only issue I see with this portion of the system however.  Another issue is that if these tokens drop as often as it sounds they might, in a large scale battle people will be literally spammed with the loot window over and over.  I’m sorry, but if they have the code in the system to automatically deposit these items into your bags based on participation (this is explained in the next section), then they should simply roll on these tokens behind the scenes and drop them in your bags automatically during PvP (or put them in the aforementioned special inventory/currency section).  When I PvP, I want to kill people and then kill more, not stop and make sure I hit the loot button before it times out.  And what happens if I am in on the kill but then die and respawn?  Do I still have a chance to roll on the token I earned?  Too many issues here and I see many, MANY Appeals filed on things like this which would only stretch the already-thin CSR department.

Keep Captures - So anyone that participates in the Keep capture gets tokens, or at least the option of tokens in the case of those that win bags.  Said tokens will be deposited directly into your backpack if you didn’t win a bag.  Hold up a second, did I read that right?  They can put stuff directly into our backpacks as rewards?  Why the $#@% aren’t they doing this with PQ bags then?  Talk about something people would stand up and cheer for, but anyway…  So cool.

Now, they stated that if you qualify to roll on a PQ bag, you have “participated”.  Problem.  What happens if you crash during the capture?  Or if you die and respawn and are running back to the Keep when it’s captured?  Is just the fact that you were there for part of it sufficient to net you your reward or do you actually HAVE TO BE THERE upon capture?  Again, I think these are valid concerns for people considering the instability of the game when large numbers of players converge on the same area.  Not to mention that in a well-defended Keep fight, a healer sometimes really should be healing the people that are alive and still fighting instead of winding up a rez while someone else dies.  Another possible issue that could create masses of Appeals, not to mention mass outrage.

Zone Captures – Booyah!  Between this bonus and the changes to renown/influence, Mythic finally takes a huge step forward in rewarding purposeful RvR.  Only thing I would change is more heavily rewarding players for having been at the BO/Keep captures and lowering the “general” zone reward.  Basically, instead of 5/1/1 (zone/keep/bo) at capture, give 3/2/2.  That way, the reward balance for full participation vs just showing up swings from 11-5 to 15-3.  This would encourage people to actively participate in all stages of a zone capture and not just show up at the end when they noticed it was about to flip from somewhere else.  People will still do it of course, but at least they won’t get almost as much of a reward as someone that was there the whole time.

Fortress Captures – Same issues as Keeps.  Even more important when talking a Fort fight.  If I was there for 90% of the fight but then died and was on my way back when it goes boom, I want my reward.  Do I get it?  Doesn’t sound like it.  If not, people are going to be even more afraid to die than they are now…if that’s even possible.

Fortress Defenses – /facepalm…  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for rewarding one side for a solid, well executed defense.  However, given the current Zone Domination system, some sides might just be tempted to not flip that BO to prevent ZD from accidentally causing a Fortress fight during off-peak hours just so they can get some free goodies.  (I’ll be honest, it’s the first thing that came to mind for me.)  The path of least resistance will always be the one chosen by the majority when it comes to rewards.  If you think the current state of Merry-BO-Rounds and Keep-Swapping is bad, wait until it’s reverse-ZD Fort-pushing for Conqueror Crests on defense.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how’d they’d fix this issue correctly.  If they make it so you don’t get a Crest unless the attackers break down the front door, they’ll just let it happen and then kill them.  If it has to be if the inner door comes down, then they’ll just inner-door tank-wall or camp the Lord room.  Require damage to the Lord = camp the Lord room.  They could attempt a minimum number of attackers requirement, but how do you find a number high enough for people not to complain about but still low enough to not equal a valid attempt?  While the new Keep Upgrades are supposed to lower the frequency of Fortress pushes, I still see this becoming a highly-contentious issue in the future.

Pushing to the City – Anti-climactic and oh so exclusionary.  “Rank 40 players only”? Come on Mythic.  If lower-level players were helping progress the campaign in the regular zones and level 37-39 players are fighting in Fortresses to help capture them, why are you then giving them the shaft when they help push the campaign to the City?  Supporting exclusionary, elitist behavior by coding it directly into the game will only turn the non-40 players against you.  And guess what?  There’s more of them on most servers than level 40 players that actively participate.

As to the anti-climactic nature of the reward, 1 Crest?  You get that for taking one Fortress, or defending one.  Heck, much easier to defend successfully over and over to farm Conq Crests than it is to push the campaign to the City.  And again, what qualifies as the enigmatic “participating in the campaign”?  There’s a PvE VP pool, does doing PQs during a push that results in a City siege net you a Conq Crest?

Completing City PQs – Looks good to me except for the same participation issues.  With the insta-gibs that get thrown around in these and the fact that releasing resets your contribution, I see tanks not wanting to tank as they’ll lose all hope of a reward…  I like that they’re tied to completions as it encourages teamwork across the board.  Before someone points up and goes “Gaar, you said you didn’t want tokens handed out for PvE”, I know I did.  However, in game-terms, the PQs in Stage 2 and 3 are RvR, not PvE.  Yes, I do think there’s a difference.

Now if Mythic would only fix the PQs so they dropped 6 Gold Bags for attackers like they said they would, we’d have a good team-focused reward system in the City.

Buying Items

So now you have your new shinies, what do you do with them?  Well, they’ve put in new Quartermasters in the Market area of your City, in the Palace and in the Guild Hall.  Just like renown gear merchants, they are Tier-based in name and offerings.  Pretty hard to screw that part up.  Basically, you browse the offerings and select what you want.  As long as you have enough of the right tokens, you get the item.  (I foresee a lot of people turning back on the “Warn on Buy” option in user settings.)

Currently on Test, the full T1 through T4 PvP Armor Sets through Conqueror were available in the Market area.  Potions were supposed to be there as well, but I didn’t see them.  The Guild Hall Quartermaster and Palace Quatermaster have the full Invader set, Boots/Gloves/Jewelry for Warlord and Gloves/Jewelry for Sovereign.  No potions in sight here either, at least not in the Palace one which is what I had access to.  (He’s in the room with the Dwarf and Elf Kings.)

Summary and Observations

Now, I know I sound negative a lot throughout this post.  I just want to say that I’m very excited about this system and think it’s a HUGE step forward for the game.  My negativeness comes solely from issues where I see problems arising or where I feel this is not addressing the real problems with undesirable behaviors in the game.

Overall, the system has a lot of potential.  For starters, it is much more readily expandable than the Gold Bag system currently in place.  Just about anything you could ever think to add to the game or bring back to it could be put into this type of barter system.  Which brings me to my major observation:

  • This should be THE reward system in-game for RvR.  Remember when I said I was a “foundations” person?  This is a solid foundation for the game’s reward system, much more solid than the PQ Bag system currently in place.  If anything, flip the two around.  Make this the game’s reward foundation and have the PQ Bag system on top of it.  Remove Contribution Bonuses as you’re already being rewarded for your contribution by getting the tokens and just make the Bag rolls random.  Vegas-style, no whammies, slot machine heaven.  With the token system at its foundation, everyone wins but a few get the triple-cherry.  People then focus not on trying to game some hidden contribution system but instead on trying to work together as a team to accomplish their goals.  The dreaded “Me Firsts” and the “Gimme Gimmes” (not to be confused with the band “Me First and the Gimme Gimmes” who ROCK!) go the way of the dodo bird and a new day of WAR dawns on us all.  ~wipes tear from eye~

Honestly though, this really could change the face of WAR as we know it.  Rewarding people in a variety of ways is already a proven motivational tool.  This system more closely ties Effort with Reward when it comes to Loot more closely than anything we’ve seen to date in this game.  Combined with the changes coming to Renown and Influence for Keeps and BOs, this could turn the tide in favor of team-based, Realm-wide coordinated RvR which is far more enjoyable than what we have right now.  If Mythic can address the concerns I noted in each area above, this could be a grand-slam addition to the game just in time for the Tomb Kings Live Expansion where RvR is the gateway.

Time will tell how it all pans out though.  For now, we can only base our like/dislike of the system off what is presented on Test.  In that regard, here is a listing of the Armor Sets available and their current Test prices.  At first glance, looks good.  I’d have to do some number crunching to see exactly how much effort it would take to get the end-game sets, but for the regular Tier stuff it sounds really good.  I’ll be adding this information to my Definitive Guide to Armor Sets in WAR as well once we have solid numbers to go off.

Prices shown as (Crest, Medallion) where appropriate.

Tier 1

Decimator:  Boots (15 Recruit), Body (50 Recruit)

Tier 2

Obliterator:  Boots (50 Scout), Gloves (50 Scout), Body (125 Scout)

Tier 3

Devastator:  Boots (65 Soldier), Gloves (65 Soldier), Shoulders (135 Soldier), Helm (135 Soldier), Body (165 Soldier)

Tier 4

Annihilator:  Boots (225 Officer), Gloves (225 Officer), Shoulders (250 Officer), Helm (250 Officer), Body (350 Officer)

Conqueror:  Boots (20 Conqueror, 400 Officer), Gloves (20 Conqueror, 400 Officer), Belt (15 Conqueror, 375 Officer), Shoulders (20 Conqueror, 475 Officer), Helm (20 Conqueror, 475 Officer), Body (30 Conqueror, 500 Officer)

City Siege

Invader:  Boots (5 Invader, 400 Officer), Gloves (5 Invader, 400 Officer), Belt (3 Invader, 375 Officer), Shoulders (9 Invader, 475 Officer), Helm (9 Invader, 475 Officer), Body (11 Invader, 500 Officer)

Warlord:  Boots (6 Warlord, 475 Officer), Gloves (6 Warlord, 475 Officer), Belt (4 Warlord, 375 Officer), Jewelry (4 Warlord, 375 Officer)

Sovereign:  Gloves (10 Royal, 475 Officer), Jewelry (10 Royal, 375 Officer)

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2009 8:34 am

    Awesome post. Glad to see someone breaking it down without rubbing its face in the fire. There’s going to be flaws in any system presented, if only for the fact that MMO’s contain a huge variety of people and cannot be universally appeased.

    Keep that in mind, and accept that any changes are good changes because they ARE changes. Whenever there’s something in the game that sucks, submit a report and wait for the next patch (or two), in the meantime, there’s so much to do, you can probably avoid whatever issues you run across.

    Ah, about Bags in PQ’s and Keeps. I wouldn’t want them straight to inventory. I take my guild out on PQ/Keep runs, and turn on Master Looter for people that win bags and don’t need them. Wonderful way to reward players that can use the gear.

  2. April 8, 2009 9:28 am

    Good stuff.

    I think you have valid point on all the issues you raised. The only concern I have is that if the game continues to change too much, then it’s possible to lose those players that have stuck with the game up to this point. I have played other MMO’s where the player base was very involved and vocal, and when changes were made it was not to the players’ liking and they left.

    I would like to see changes that reflect the current feelings of the players, but developers need to make sure those changes are not just knee-jerk reactions to the most vocal of members (who generally will always find something to harp on). Thanks for the in-depth analysis, I enjoy your work.

  3. Lyeon permalink
    April 8, 2009 5:51 pm

    Wow, thanks for the great post and all the info. I like the overall idea and may start playing somemore with the changes coming up.

  4. Artiee permalink
    April 9, 2009 6:48 am

    Nice Post.

    I glad they are doing something. Since we “moved” from REM to IR I haven’t gotten a gold back from a keep raid. Mythic contribution system is broken. I bang on the door the whole time, one of the 1st ones up to the lord room to punt destro off, Help tank the lord (I have even fully tanked the lord) just to get +5 on contribution.

    I’m not sure if this is the total way to do it. I for one hate that we only have 6 possible keeps in T4 to attack at anytime. open the prior zone to add more keep fun.

    In daoc OF we had 18 possible keeps. In NF we had 18 possible keeps and 72 possible towers.

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 9, 2009 1:55 pm

      Contribution is a weird system and despite the Devs intentions, it is easily gamed if you know what you’re doing. Sadly, adding more keeps wouldn’t help anything as we barely get the ones we have defended. The new system should help in all regards though as long as they address certain issues with it.

  5. April 9, 2009 9:49 am

    @Artiee

    You know, T3 is also available to run around and take Keeps/BO’s in. You won’t get T4 Bags from it, but it’ll help flip T4 and the Renown is always good. Also I’ve noticed that T3 is much easier to flip in general. Big renown bonus if you take all the keeps/bo’s

    • Artiee permalink
      April 9, 2009 12:48 pm

      @Grimnir

      I know that the lower tiers help with flip t4. Only I have to have a T3 in there. Doing T3 as a chicken doesn’t help much.

    • April 9, 2009 1:06 pm

      Ah, right. Sorry, I play on an oRvR server. Level restrictions are different.

  6. gijeremy99 permalink
    April 9, 2009 10:20 am

    Great Post, just one addition.

    You can break down the Higher medallion into lower level medallion’s.. Well atleast you could on the PTS yesterday. I broke down an officer medallion into 5 solider medallions and then broke down the soldier medallion into 5 recruit medallions.

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 9, 2009 1:56 pm

      Wow, then that’s new because it wasn’t in their original concept. If so, that’s great.

  7. Beme permalink
    April 9, 2009 5:25 pm

    All I can say is buy Warlord gloves and ring from vendor now. Theyre gonna take tons and tons and tons of farming to attain after this goes ingame.

    • April 16, 2009 11:40 am

      I noticed last night that renown gear (mostly gloves) available for gold in 1.2 had moved over to tokens in 1.2.1. I quickly jumped on the live server and told everyone to go buy whatever they could before the patch today. I think there will be enough complaining that all the gloves will go back to gold purchase, but you never know.

      I’m also concerned that tokens/crest won’t drop often enough. Right now killing a player has a CHANCE to drop a token. Even with 100% drop rate you’d have to kill 300+ players per piece you want to get. I have a feeling it’s going to be a slow process (slower than influence rewards).

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 16, 2009 2:38 pm

      Well, prices can always be adjusted, however the drop rate seems fine so far. People kill far more players than they think. Add in the guaranteed rewards from capturing Keeps/Forts/Zones and it adds up quick.

      I’m liking tokens more and more so far, to be honest.

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