Forums » General Pantheon Discussion

Alternate Advancement (AA's)

    • 177 posts
    September 13, 2017 10:11 AM PDT

    Gnog said:

    I loved AA in EQ, until the numbers got truly silly, like into the thousands, and the xp rates for earning AA got ramped up. The system got a bit bloated then. But hey if Pantheon makes it 18 years I guess I'd be okay with some bloat. 

     For me the cool part about AA, in the early EQ expansions, was that there were core AA that everyone was motivated to get, and then there were some AA that only the best xp grinders could really hope to max out in era, like innate spell resists or innate stat boosts.  Those more difficult-to-attain AA probably should have been tuned a little better (for example the stat increases were pointless for many because of the hard caps on stats, which I thought was an awful game design, btw, but that's another thread). Overall it was a cool system though and gave a good reason to keep logging in, grouping, and investing time in a character that had hit the level cap. Also I don't see why this system cannot coexist alongside mentoring and progeny as long as the tuning is right. 

     



    I'm a big believer in no hard caps.  Soft caps are the way to go.  Even if the dimishing returns are hard and almost a hard cap, it is better than a straight hard cap.  There should always be room to improve, not matter how small.

    I completely agree.  In EQ1 it took a lot of work to grind out all AAs before a new expansion came.  It could be and was done.  But it was work.  And so there was always something to do to improve your character, which, IMO, is the key to maintaining interest from players after all story content has been consumed.

    • 75 posts
    September 13, 2017 10:11 AM PDT

    By far and large the vast majority of AAs in EQ1 are not needed for endgame. For example, most end game raiders are going to have over 25k AAs. A new player with 10k is still going to be able to raid. The experience scales just like levels: I had an alt mage that I have been playing for 6months and he has 13k AAs - plenty to endgame with. You have to be careful and selective.

    I am a very big fan of this system. It keeps me playing my character by giving an outlet for XP once I am level capped, it makes me invested into my character by making me feel as if I have customized the character, it gives me something to show off ("look how many AAs I have!"), it provides little changes that makes me feel rewarded for my time but not so far beyond other players it is unbearable, and it gives the devs an extra tool for class developement.

    I feel that EQ1 AA system is one of the things that has kept it around for so long - even with all of its weaknesses.

    I agree that having the prospect of all AAs purchaseable is cumberson, BUT i do not like the idea of being able to move AAs around like WoW. I like the idea that my choices matter. My courses that I completed for a master's degree in languages cant be equally exchanged for classes in music theory - choices matter and have lasting results, choose wisely. It would be neat to have AA trees that close off other AAs and open up others. Once this decision is made, your character is sealed to that choice. For example: my bard can select a healilng tree but that closes the arcane tree AND adds new AAs to my performance tree (randomly picking things to give you an idea - NOT A FLUSHED OUT IDEA).

    So, to answer the OP: Yes! please incorroporate your take on EQ1 AA system. There is great value there.


    This post was edited by Niloiv at September 13, 2017 10:12 AM PDT
    • 177 posts
    September 13, 2017 10:37 AM PDT

    I agree.  There are certainly tweaks that can be made, and some specific AA choices seemed a bit off at times, but EQ1 AA system simply worked for the most part.  Perhaps the original xp gain was too harsh and where it ended up was too easy, but that kind of stuff can be balanced out.  Also don't mind the idea of "trees" as you mentioned.  Perhaps there could be General AAs, Class AAs and Specialization  AAs.  The trees would be in the last set.  Maybe they all draw from the same pool of experience or they each have their own pool.  I kind of like the idea of separate pools of XP for each area because it gives choice.  I'm going to work on my Specialization Tree today.  Or, I'm too squishy.  I'm going to work on the added health AAs in the General Tab.

    I really disliked "Champion Points" in ESO and similar systems in other games.  Not because of the trees.  That part wasn't bad.  But the overall "this replaces levelling after level 50" thing made it so that it wasn't an "Alternate Advancement"  It was the only advancement, once you hit 50.  And it was necessary to use reach 160 to even be considered for certain dungeons.  So, it is just a different way of leveling.

    I prefer the ability to choose what one was working on in EQ1.  And I liked the fact that outside of a few basics, AAs weren't generally required to for raiding.  And it wasn't hard to reach that basic level.  And even that wasn't a hard set rule.  What mattered wasn't really the AAs but could you survive the AoE or some other mechanic.  (You were definitely more able to do this with the right AAs).  My point being that in EQ1, AAs were Alternate Advancement and not required for general playing of the game but definitely made some things easier and extended the life of gameplay.  I'm not saying that we need to copy every detail of that system.  But steer clear of the "replace levelling at max level" mechanic.  It becomes just that, leveling without calling it leveling.


    This post was edited by DragonFist at September 13, 2017 10:55 AM PDT
    • 874 posts
    September 13, 2017 11:25 AM PDT

    I am not a huge fan of alternate advancement, unless it offers only quality of life upgrades for classes like Endless Quiver for Rangers. I mean I do enjoy having means of continued character progression at max level but AA is just leveling with a new name and behind a (usually) much longer grind. As the game goes on and AAs are progressed the power gap widens and new players are put off, as well as serving as a deterrent to making alts or deal with falling further and further behind.

     

    The funny thing about AA's is they are rarely alternative and almost always mandatory. The game has to be balanced around the idea that players have it maxed (or a substantial amount put in) or it makes things a bit too easy for the hardcore. It always becomes a matter of time before guilds/raids/groups require a certain amount of AA progress and usually following a cookie cutter list/path. I prefer when the devs know where the players as a whole stand and balance content based on that; they know the power level of every level 50 wizard (et al.) and get very fine tuned difficulty based on that without having to consider a vast range of AA levels. 

    • 177 posts
    September 13, 2017 11:50 AM PDT

    Those are some valid points.  Tuning is always an issue.

    Still, I played eq1 for 14 years and I know many friends that have outright stated that the only reason they stuck around in the later years, other than playing through a new expansion, was the AA system.  It gave them a reason to continue playing.  And I felt similarly.  In the end, I left, not because of game play, but management.  When Daybreak anounced that they would no longer provide customer support for things like character stuck in world and other similar issues, I cut bait and left.  The writing was already on the wall and this made it clear that the customer experience wasn't a priority any more.  In addition, my entire guild moved on to Rifts at the time.

    Anyhow, my point being that tuning is definitely an issue and you are right about that downside.  The available options for advancement and the player retainment value needs to be weight against that.  I believe that out-weighs the tuning issues.  But I also think that development should work AAs with the tuning in mind.

    An idea that might help with that could be that AA experience could have a soft cap that with harsh deminishing returns and xp needed scales to that soft cap as well so that the final few before the soft cap are relatively slow but not after soft cap slow.  And when it has become "required" by much of the player base to have 2000 AAs, bump to soft cap to something like 2500  AAs, making it relatively easy to get an character raid ready or an alt up to snuff, without it being a complete handout either.

    • 874 posts
    September 13, 2017 4:57 PM PDT

    DragonFist said:

    Tuning is always an issue.

    Still, I played eq1 for 14 years and I know many friends that have outright stated that the only reason they stuck around in the later years, other than playing through a new expansion, was the AA system.  It gave them a reason to continue playing.  And I felt similarly...

    Anyhow, my point being that tuning is definitely an issue and you are right about that downside.  The available options for advancement and the player retainment value needs to be weight against that.  I believe that out-weighs the tuning issues.  But I also think that development should work AAs with the tuning in mind.

    An idea that might help with that could be that AA experience could have a soft cap that with harsh deminishing returns and xp needed scales to that soft cap as well so that the final few before the soft cap are relatively slow but not after soft cap slow.  And when it has become "required" by much of the player base to have 2000 AAs, bump to soft cap to something like 2500  AAs, making it relatively easy to get an character raid ready or an alt up to snuff, without it being a complete handout either.

    Oh don't get me wrong, AA is a rather ingenious way to keep players hooked with a potentially endless range of extra stats/ability goals to work toward while waiting for proper expansions/levels/content. It turns the wall at the end game of "running out of things to do" into a more digestable/generally ignorable steep mountain with the wall at a distant peak. 

     

    However with the addition of alternate advancement gains with raid/top end gear comes implications for content more generally: a reciprocal climb in mob difficulty. The wide range of gear power coupled with varying AA levels makes it almost impossible to pinpoint any settings of/for normal or hard. This tends to escalate to content, expansion or otherwise, (not just raids) being more tuned somewhere in-between which is useful for only a very specific audience, too easy for the hardcore raiders and too frustrating for the characters on the opposite end - new and/or newly leveled or even casual. Now level 50 isn't really what it once was and one has to grind out increasingly more levels worth of experience just to catch up to the rising baseline; The more emphasis you place on an alternate advancement system, the further the gap grows between new players and veterans.

     

    I wish I had a better solution and maybe VR already has their own ideas here, I could really see Progeny being a form of the ultimate continued character progression. I hear a lot of people against Progeny offering any real bonuses to a character on grounds that it makes it "a requirement" yet at the same time they seem to love AA's, ignoring the fact that AA's almost always become a requirement as well. 

    • 177 posts
    September 13, 2017 5:00 PM PDT

    I don't really disagree with any of that.

    • 508 posts
    September 13, 2017 7:53 PM PDT

    Just wanted to say this really quick:

    AA for me personally has both positive and negative vibes to it.  And to explain that, you need to understand the origin:  When we were adding 10 levels to EQ, and we made those 10 levels require a lot of experience, we did so out of fear that there wouldn't be enough for players to do during this period (especially the hard core players putting major hours into the game).   

    Now that obviously evolved into a more complete system and one very important and enjoyable to a lot of players.  So I guess what I'm getting at is 1. I have no issue with similar systems 2. but I don't want them to be a bandaid just to slow down power gamers.   If we do create a similar system(s), I want it to integrate and interweave into Pantheon more naturally than it did, at least initially, in EQ.   

    • 565 posts
    September 13, 2017 7:56 PM PDT

    Aradune said:

    Just wanted to say this really quick:

    AA for me personally has both positive and negative vibes to it.  And to explain that, you need to understand the origin:  When we were adding 10 levels to EQ, and we made those 10 levels require a lot of experience, we did so (implemented AAs) out of fear that there wouldn't be enough for players to do during this period (especially the hard core players putting major hours into the game).   

    Now that obviously evolved into a more complete system and one very important and enjoyable to a lot of players.  So I guess what I'm getting at is 1. I have no issue with similar systems 2. but I don't want them to be a bandaid just to slow down power gamers.   If we do create a similar system(s), I want it to integrate and interweave into Pantheon more naturally than it did, at least initially, in EQ.   

    Progeny. Love this system.


    This post was edited by Aradune at September 13, 2017 7:58 PM PDT
    • 177 posts
    September 13, 2017 8:07 PM PDT

    Looking forward to what you come up with.

    • 44 posts
    September 14, 2017 4:51 PM PDT

    I have nothing against a good AA system, but I'd rather see good, updated endgame, including raiding. AA's are a grind. Raiding is working as a team, solving puzzles.

    • 224 posts
    September 14, 2017 5:43 PM PDT

    Aradune said:

    Just wanted to say this really quick:

    AA for me personally has both positive and negative vibes to it.  And to explain that, you need to understand the origin:  When we were adding 10 levels to EQ, and we made those 10 levels require a lot of experience, we did so out of fear that there wouldn't be enough for players to do during this period (especially the hard core players putting major hours into the game).   

    Now that obviously evolved into a more complete system and one very important and enjoyable to a lot of players.  So I guess what I'm getting at is 1. I have no issue with similar systems 2. but I don't want them to be a bandaid just to slow down power gamers.   If we do create a similar system(s), I want it to integrate and interweave into Pantheon more naturally than it did, at least initially, in EQ.   

    That is gloriously wonderful to see in writing.

    • 375 posts
    September 14, 2017 7:45 PM PDT

    Aradune said:

    Just wanted to say this really quick:

    AA for me personally has both positive and negative vibes to it.  And to explain that, you need to understand the origin:  When we were adding 10 levels to EQ, and we made those 10 levels require a lot of experience, we did so out of fear that there wouldn't be enough for players to do during this period (especially the hard core players putting major hours into the game).   

    Now that obviously evolved into a more complete system and one very important and enjoyable to a lot of players.  So I guess what I'm getting at is 1. I have no issue with similar systems 2. but I don't want them to be a bandaid just to slow down power gamers.   If we do create a similar system(s), I want it to integrate and interweave into Pantheon more naturally than it did, at least initially, in EQ.   

    What I don't understand when people ask for "AA" is do they want the ability to customize a character the way AA did, or do they want to be able to stop gaining levels and instead gain levels in other areas?

    I've said this before, but alternate advancement should just be called advancement and should be included as a base part of the game. Create neat ways like that for people to customize their character when they level up. Having a seperate XP pool system is just obtuse.

    • 177 posts
    September 14, 2017 8:08 PM PDT

    I really did like the slider to that let me choose where my XP was going.  I like it as an alternative to leveling and prefer it that way.  The specific AAs, while I like many, was really this thing.  I remember very specifically hitting a point  in leveling where I wanted to work on my mitigation.  Part of that was gear, but part of it was specific AAs.  I wasn't in end game at that point on that character.  But it was what interested me at that moment.  And AAs gave me the ability to focus on that.  Yeah, I was grinding it.  But I was grinding with a purpose.  Increase my mitigation.  I did it while camping AC augs.  As a bonus, I became good at getting AC augs, so I would make runs with the guild tanks to get them all the augs they needed, while focusing on those AAs.  Many might think it was a waste of time but I had fun and was working MY character as I saw fit.  And I eventually made that character number 1 on the leader boards for that class and server and held the spot for a few years.  The point being that a key factor of Alternate Advancement points, for me, and others, was the Alternate part of it.  Especially, if you aren't racing to end game, it can let you focus on some aspect of the charater for awhile that you are currently interested in.  And I think that his aspect of it should be improved upon and exploited.  It part of what I hate about other "AA" systems like Champion Points in ESO and similar systems.  They aren't an alternate anything.  They a just a new set of trees for "end game", which winds up pushing end game back further because now, not only do you need to be lvl50 but also 160cp.  Given enough AAs and reason to chase those butterflies, I'd be happy to park at lvl25 or whatever and work some specific aspects of my character before moving on.  And if there is another mechanism to do this that is just as fun, I'd do that too.