Gaarawarr Gabs with Stuart Zissu – Part 2
So in Part 1 of this interview with Stuart Zissu, RvR Strike Team Lead, we discussed things like the Zone Domination System, warcamp grinders and city sieges.
In Part 2, we will continue on with questions on the city while also talking Battlefield Objectives, RvR quests, and Victory Point pool misconceptions.
GG: While we are in the city, as it were, I actually liked something about cities, and certain people will know why, but that thing was removed. I loved the Instance Selection Screen. It was a big thing for me because I’m very much about organizing and being able to see information, to be able to adjust groups to go against larger ones, etc. So I didn’t like that change at first, but then I ran into a secondary problem after that was removed. I’ve been in multiple instances in a city where we had zero healers and there was no way to reliably get any in. Unless you run a pre-made, there’s no way to know if you’re gonna end up with healers or not in the city siege. If you’re pugging the city siege, which is what a lot of people do…
Stuart: Most people are, yup.
GG: It’s what WAR is kind of built around, in a sense, with a lot of the way it’s supposed to be easy-access. You totally can get jacked and end up with 48 people but no healers. So, to me, the Instance Selection Screen was almost a good thing for that. Is there a chance we may see it come back? Because you’re gonna make the city siege fun and people are gonna want to fight. Where-as before, it was more of a way to…it was taken out to force people to fight but that was because the city siege was a little weird. With the city siege being more enjoyable and desirable, could we see a return to being able to choose our instance?
Stuart: So when we put in the Instance Selection Screen, which was before Launch, this was the way it was launching, this was the way we wanted it. We put it in to say “OK look, my group of twelve and my friends over here and this warband over here… let’s all choose Instance 12 so that we can fight together and go do it.” That’s what we wanted to happen with the system. What we found happened with the system 80-90% of the time was: We run in. I’m getting my ass handed to me in this instance. I’m gonna run out, pick a completely different instance, go in there. Oh, now we’re kickin’ butt. And what you started seeing happening with all the populations was it would be 48 vs. 0 or 0 vs. 48 consistently. And then people were upset.
People were like “We have no defenders. This is not fun.” And on top of that, as everyone knows, we have the thing where if you’re completely overpowering someone else, your contribution in that instance is actually less than in a balanced instance.
GG: Well, that came around the same time as removing the Instance Selection Screen. We never really got time to play around with that before it was taken out.
Stuart: By taking it out, what we’ve noticed is we have a lot more balanced instances. Maybe not career-wise, but at least number balance. And, in general, people are having more fun with it cuz there’s more action happening. Because you get to the same thing where, in the campaign, people RvE (as they love to call it). They do it cuz it’s easier, but they don’t like it. It’s the same type of thing that was happening in the cities where people would leave an instance and go to another because it was easier. But they didn’t really like it.
GG: Right, but we have mechanics now in the game… I’m looking at this as “Yes, I understand there’s a reason why this was put in.” and I didn’t think I was going to see this issue where there were no healers. Obviously that was a bad thing, but now we have things that have been added to the game, like Rise of the Tomb Kings, where you try to invade and then leave and you get a debuff where you can’t invade again. I instantly see that and go “Let’s put the Instance Selection Screen back in and if somebody goes into a city and decides they don’t want to be in there and leave, they get a debuff and they can’t just run back in and switch instances.”
I also look at it and go “Why can’t you make it so that, I mean, it’s a PQ and it’s an instance — if everybody leaves on one side, why can’t it lock it so there’s no entry for the side that was zeroed out?” Or, since it is a PQ and an instance and it is controlled and you can pull the strings, if somebody does drive everyone out, or drives them to AFK, then no more on their side can enter, the PQ finishes, the instance shuts down and everybody gets moved out when there are other instances that need to be filled instead of just leaving that one open for RvE.
This could be a way of stopping the RvE and the PQ grinding by controlling instances as opposed to just allowing people to stay there. Because, even as it is now, you can end up with 48 vs. 6 and it’s no fun for anybody and those six may leave, then you’ve got 48 vs. 0 for the rest of the time because nobody wants to go in. Every time you load in, it’s the only one that’s open, so everybody’s just getting creamed. So the other side just stops coming in and you’re always doing a PvE instance. That seems to be how the mechanic works.
Stuart: The only time that would ever happen is if no one actually comes in anymore, because the way the instance system tries to balance is that it tries to fill up both sides of an instance. So, it keeps putting people into a populated instance until it’s full, kind of like those cascading towers of champagne — you fill the top one and it works its way down. That’s sort of what the instancing system does now where everyone’s trying to get into the first one. If they can’t make it, they go into the second one next, then the next and the next, and it just cascades down. Sure you have the problem where at the very end you might have a 24 vs. 0 or whatever. That’s only affecting…well, unfortunately it’s affecting those 24 people. Whereas the instancing selection we had before…
GG: But that’s almost where people want to be. So, people play the system so that they end up being the last instance and thus they don’t have to fight defenders and can PvE to get their gear.
Stuart: But again, they’re contributing less to the campaign which we’re gonna try to…
Andy: Unfortunately, with the instancing window, what we saw was that people took (and this is a very common term you’ll hear in MMOs) people took the path of least resistance. When given the option, they will actually take the path of least resistance. At this point, what we’re doing with the forcing of instancing is that we are minimizing the opportunity that they have to take the path of least resistance. We are saying “Your first option is to go in and fight other people. That’s what we want you to do.” After that, after we get to a point where there’s nobody left on the other side to fight, then yeah, we’re putting you into the other instances that are empty.
It’s not the ideal solution, and we don’t want RvE. We do not want that. Absolutely. Totally. The game is designed for people to fight each other. But if that happens, there’s not a lot we can do at this point to prevent that from happening. But what we can do is minimize the chances that it will happen.
Stuart: That’s what I was trying to say…
GG: Obviously one of the main reasons people want to go in the city is to fight for the loot. The loot is good and a lot of times you’ll get some of the higher Renown Rank players showing up to fight in the city or defend it. However, there is an issue currently where, because of loot rules, soloists or people in small, closed groups tend to try to “tag” as many people as possible before combat starts so they can get loot rights when it’s over. Is there anything being looked at to fix this problem?
Andy: It’s definitely a concern that we’ve heard about and it’s something that we continue to investigate; however, I think in the grand scheme of things right now, that’s probably a little bit lower on our priority list.
GG: Is there…I don’t know if you guys want to give this out, but I’m gonna ask and you can say no. Obviously in the campaign we saw a lot of transparency come in to the Victory Point pool with the outline to the percentages each aspect contributes. Is there a way that we can get a final say on what the percentages are in the city siege?
Stuart: The same system is coming for the city siege. The only reason it wasn’t in when that system went out was there was a technical problem where the cities are all instanced. So, it wasn’t like an open zone where you just knew what the overall point pool was, and you’re done. So we’ve been working through that technical issue and we now have it resolved — it will be coming in either this patch or the next one.
GG: That will get rid of a lot of myths.
Stuart: It’s gonna be funny cuz I know I run groups and stuff like that and I’ve explained to people what contributes by saying things like “Hey look at the…” in the Open RvR zones… “Look at what contributes.” In fact, the day that the system came in, I somehow got to the top of a warband. I’m usually the guy who just follows everyone. Somehow I became the leader of a warband after playing for a couple hours and they’re like “OK. We wanna flip the zone.” because the new rewards came in (it was the same time) and so they’re like “OK, let’s PvE! Let’s do PQs!” and I’m like “STOP!!! Somebody, for the love of god, click on the bar up top.” Because I knew some people hadn’t read the patch notes or whatever. I’m like “Click on the bar up top. Now, what percentage is PvE for zone control?” I think it was like 10% at the time in lower Tiers. And then I’m like “What percentage are Scenarios?” And they’re like “A lot more…” “Can we please queue for a couple Scenarios?” Two Scenarios went by and we flipped the zone.
We’re expecting the same thing to happen in the cities. Once we get those in there, people will be like “Ohhhhh….OK.”
GG: Yeah, because somebody like me watches long-term and listens to people in other instances and Scenarios and understands the system. But you can’t convince somebody that the sky is blue when they don’t want to look up.
So, a lot of people were put off by the fact that the Tier 4 toons were no longer able to access the city siege Scenario. Are there any plans in the future for letting them do so again? The reason being, a lot of players don’t want to get into the city siege grind, but they still want to participate in the scenario and help push. Some people just don’t like the city siege, and that may change in the future, but a lot of people love Scenarios.
Stuart: So, one of the reasons we pulled it out was we were seeing this problem where you have an instance that fills up to 48 vs. 48 and then 24 of your people leave to go into a Scenario and now you’re at 48 vs. 24, or even less if another one launches, and then you’re screwed. So it was one of those hard decisions that was like “Yes, people enjoy the Scenario.” Yes, we sorta wanted to allow the Rank 40s to do it, but at the same time, people lower down had nothing. We were like, “If we take the Scenario out and give it to the lower Rank people, the higher Rank people still get to do the city siege content.”
We may, in the future, add more Scenarios for [Rank 40s] to do. I’m not saying that’s gonna happen, but…I do know that to bring that Scenario back to the people who should be in the cities is just going to cause the same problem all over again.
GG: Is there a way to make it so you can’t queue for a Scenario while in a city siege instance? Because I know that all the Scenario groups that I was organizing in our defense of Altdorf [on Iron Rock post xfers] were all standing outside. You’d get some random people from inside, but all the groups that really didn’t want to be inside were all outside waiting for Scenario pops.
Stuart: The only downside to that is you’re still pulling population that should be in the city siege out of it.
GG: But they’re still contributing to the campaign in the way that they enjoy doing so. I know it’s a small amount, I already know the percentage, but I don’t care. I just know there are a lot of people, regardless of the faction, that really enjoy the Scenario.
GG: There are people, it’s part of the player-base, that are pure Scenario junkies. Give them a chance to RvR and yes, they’ll do it, but the moment a Scenario pops, they’re in there.
Stuart: Yeah, I know. For that Scenario, no, we probably won’t bring it back for the people who should be in the city siege, but there may be other things coming down the line for them.
GG: One of the great aspects that lets you get familiarized with the RvR zones is the “Explore the BOs, explore these Keeps” repeatable quests. We do have some for defense, but could there be ones that are repeatable for taking things, but at the same time they give some Renown and not just XP and Gold?
Stuart: So we currently have the quests, we call them the repeatable chain quests, which bring you out to do a series of things. Those are sort of the tutorial for the RvR lakes, but they’re also a lot of fun, so we put it into all of them. So they’re the type of thing you’re talking about, but adding the Renown?
GG: Well, more like the repeatable quests at a Keep where it is “Defend this Keep. Kill 25 players and come turn it back in to me,” and people immediately do it. I think the problem with the current ones is they’re a long chain that you’ve got to go into the lake, but then turn around and leave, then go back in, then back out, etc. So you’re not really…
Stuart: You’re not staying there.
GG: Exactly. But if it was “You get the quest and go to the BO. Once you capture it you can turn it in there and then move forward to the next one.” So it’s actually a whole chain you’d do without leaving the RvR lake until the end.
Stuart: So making it a loop instead of a daisy-chain?
Stuart: We would have to adjust the rewards on them as well, which then starts getting more difficult as to whether [the quest] is worth doing. Because the easier we make it to do…we have to balance it based on “If no one ever shows up, you can get out there and back in 30 seconds, or whatever.” We say, “That’s worth this much.” So if we make it to where you just have to go out there, that’s half the time, so it’s worth half the reward. Is it really gonna be worth doing that to get it? I’m not saying we can’t, I’m just saying it’s one of those scary balance parts where it’s “Do we give you too much? Are we giving you too little? Can we balance between the two?”
GG: So, to kind of end on BOs…Battlefield Objective Sergeants give out a little buff. You can run up, click on them, and they buff you. Then when you flip the zone, everybody gets the buffs for all the ones you took. It’s kind of…I can understand getting it while you’re there, but it’s kind of a pain, and that’s why a lot of people don’t do it. Then you flip the zone and get the buffs, but you’re not even in that zone after that, so it still seems kind of weird.
Is there any way to make it more of a “When you truly own that BO…you take it. It goes through the timer, and now you own it. It gives a buff that is persistent in the zone and shows up for everyone on your side, so it becomes something that you truly would want to fight over. Maybe before attacking a Keep, because you want to remove the defense or heal buffs that the other side is getting in the zone. So then those are truly Battlefield Objectives that affect the battlefield when you own them as opposed to having to funnel everybody through them to get the buff.
Stuart: So, we’re having discussions on changing those buffs – how we apply them, what kind of buffs they are, things like that. We’re looking at it in the future. I can’t promise that it’s gonna happen, I mean, we’re in the pure “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat if…” phase or “Hey, what would you do in this case with this”… I can’t promise it’s gonna happen, but right now we’re talking about it because we do see the issue with you just hitting the warcamp, getting all the buffs, and moving to the next zone, and that’s not what we really wanted those to be. We want it to be “You fight over the BOs to get that buff, then you use that buff in the zone to do whatever, or it helps in your momentum. Then you push into the next zone and fight over there.” So we’re looking at those — I just don’t know which direction it’s gonna go at all.
GG: Thank you! Oh…your drink of choice?
So, if you ever run into Stuart somewhere, now you know what to bribe him with buy him to drink while you talk WAR.
Thanks again Stuart! It was fun talking RvR with you during the interview and just chatting in general over lunch. I look forward to a chance to do it again in the future. Until then…
Have fun everyone!