Forums » General Pantheon Discussion

Alternate Advancement (AA's)

    • 306 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.

    • 76 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
    • 306 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
    • 1639 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. 

    • 306 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.

    • 1639 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. 

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

    I don't really disagree with any of that.

    • 555 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.   

    • 968 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
    • 306 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.

    • 251 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.

    • 606 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.

    • 306 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.

    • 271 posts
    March 9, 2018 4:39 PM PST

    Never got to experience EQ's AA system, but I loved DAoC's Realm Rank system. As I understand it, the two were very similar.

    I love this idea as an additional way to work on one's character without having to extend the level cap, as extending the level cap often trivilizes old gear / raids / content while necessitating the release of a good bit of new stuff. Which is fine, but I think having something akin to AAs would slow things down a lot and perhaps allow greater longevity for the game.

    Of course, as others have mentioned, there needs to be some sort of limit. Not sure how things went in EQ, but in DAoC eventually characters were wayyyy too powerful compared to fresh level 50s. It got to the point where there was a ridiculous gap between newer players / alts and high RR players. Now, that was a PvP game so it's not as significant a factor for a game like Pantheon, but it's still something that needs to be taken into consideration. As people have said, if it's something that becomes a requirement simply to get a group for a dungeon, it wasn't done well IMO.

    • 440 posts
    March 10, 2018 12:17 AM PST

    AAs which make you Stronger:

    I think the idea behind typical EQ1 AAs is to provide you with unique choices for growing your character, by using experience gains as a catalyst. But the same thing can be accomplished with a moderately complicated leveling system, such as choosing an original talent, or a stat upgrade upon leveling up. 

    Players who don't want to make a wrong choice, and get everything, can be appeased with a talent tree that lets you get every talent. Players who want more to do once they reach end game can have more to do with more leveling/longer levels. Players who don't want to outlevel their friends will have a de-leveling system for them in Pantheon already implemented.

    I definately support choices like what you get from AAs. However, I don't see the need to make them come from AAs, specifically. At the end of the day, if you have the choices, they will theoretically require just as much experience gain/effort, no matter what terminology comes behind actually getting them. Be it AAs, leveling up, earning perks from specific actions, or what have you. 

    I personally dislike overcomplicating game mechanics more than you have to. If you already have a leveling system, I say provide all strictly experience related character growth choices with that leveling system. There's no need to add an AA system on top of it. 

    Upon leveling up, or even mid level, characters could choose talents from a list that looks exactly like the list of AAs, even to the point of not letting you get certain talents until certain levels, and letting you ultimately get all of of the talents, no matter which order you initially earn them in.

    All of that said, putting level/time restrictions on too many things, like AAs, does not strike me as beneficial to a game for which the devs don't want particular weight on the "end game".

    AAs which don't make you stronger:

    There is also the idea of AAs which don't provide any actual benefits to player growth. Those, I have no issues with. By all means, let players grind for an ability that gives them a bigger quiver (given that newer archers are still able to have all the arrows they need for any given piece of content).

    By separating these quality of life AAs from leveling, you allow new characters to actually get where they want to be, vertically, faster, which in my opinion is very helpful to new players, progeny, and alts alike (so long as they still have to earn that vertical progression!).

    Going Further:

    If you DO implement "extra" perks/AAs/talents game characters can earn , then I think it is a worthy consideration to make these come from more than just experience gains, in order to enrich more aspects of the game.

    For example, finishing a quest and earning a flavorful perk related to whatever you accomplished in that quest. Games like Skyrim implement perks like this in a good way. By doing a specific quest, you could earn a permanent bonus for wearing a specific type of armor, or gain some small amount of magic resistance. Whether or not it actually makes your character stronger, getting something other than a piece of gear for your quest is uniquely rewarding, and helps to flavor up the Pantheon perception/quest system rather than just experience gains. 

    Another example would be "feats of strength" that give one time perks (no need to change the way people play the overall game here). Chaining a certain number of similarly leveled kills could grant a small amount of combat regeneration, traveling from one side of the world to another in a certain amount of time could give your character an innate sense of travel times/routes for boats. There's lots of possibilities here for both the feat of strength and the perk it offers, many of which are found within this forum. Getting these difficult perks can be excellent grounds for conversation/teamwork as well.

    To further spice these perk systems, you could need to do the quest/accomplish the feat to earn the perk, and then need to dump experience into that perk in order to implement it. It's risky, but you could even make different choices in these quests/feats lead to different ultimate rewards to promote more unique characters.

    A perk/AA system which ties in more parts of Pantheon then just experience contributes much more to a meaningful, all around, gaming experience.


    This post was edited by BeaverBiscuit at March 10, 2018 4:17 AM PST
    • 771 posts
    March 10, 2018 12:37 AM PST

    Niloiv said:

    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. 

    This is a very "new player" point of view and not even close to how it was when AA was first introduced.  A few hundred AAs was a lot and took multiple hundred of hours of game play when eq was still challenging (luclin).  By the time these type of numbers were a thing the game was unrecognizable from what many people consider Eq as far as challenge is concerned.

    This perspective is why there are such varying opinions on what EQ was.


    This post was edited by philo at March 10, 2018 12:52 AM PST
    • 120 posts
    March 10, 2018 1:04 AM PST

    My thoughts on AA system is that it is a very good system !

     

    back on everquest 1, when reaching max level, i enjoyed a lot being able to keep getting exp and boost my rogue abilities with AA system, there were like hundreds of AA levels and it was so great ! putting AA points into various skills ranging from harvesting/exploring to combat skills, it was soooo great !

    Pantheon MUST be for dedicated players, not casual players, and AA system is a great way for thos dedicated players to keep optimizing their character beyond max level.

    i'm 10000000000000% for this AA system for Pantheon so i really hope this game will have it !

     

    • 637 posts
    March 10, 2018 3:19 AM PST

    As was hinted at by Aradune and was mentioned by others, Alternate Advancement is only necessary if the originally designed advancement is the same old system EQ (and other RPGs) has used.

    Wasn't it just a late bolt-on to EQ to keep people interested?  Surely these days and with Brad's team's knowledge and experience something can be designed from the beginning to do that?

    The progeny system might well cover this need in part?  Also some kind of specialisation ability trees (though there's no reason they would have to be 'end game' only)?  Some kind of horizontal progression maybe?  Meaningful reputation-based abilities?

    One thing I don't particularly like is a continual significant power increase.  It shouldn't become 'required' to be some maniac power gamer to be able to join in with raids.

    • 16 posts
    March 10, 2018 6:52 AM PST

    Kilsin said:

    What are your thoughts on Alternate Advancement (AA's) and do you have experience with that system?

     

    I love the AA's in EQ but being a casual player for the most part, I have never built up a huge supply of them. This for me is mostly because i was always trying to see new content and catch up to friends and never had the time to allocate to AA's. 

    I would suggest maybe that when the game is releaed, it is without AA's.

    The next Expansion would be content, higher spell ranks/some new spells and AA's

    The next Expansion would be more Lvl's and content.

     

    In short, alternate every expansion between Lvl boost and AA's/spell ranks.

     

    my 2 cents


    This post was edited by Jabberwakee at March 10, 2018 6:53 AM PST
    • 600 posts
    March 10, 2018 12:07 PM PST

    Its all realitive time syncs, so aa's levels, skill caps, all that is just a time sync to slow down all characters to enjoy the game. Only so many things you can implement to slow down raiders and power gamers. Nothing wrong with AA's, or skill tree's

     

    You can sugar coat it all you want, but in the end it is just to slow the power gamers down some, otherwise we would have expansions every other year.

    • 2261 posts
    March 10, 2018 6:39 PM PST

    Would love to see a deep AA system similar to what EQOA offered (Class Mastery)  --  it extended character progression in so many meaningful ways.  EQ2 is an example of a game where the AA system left a lot to be desired.

    • 600 posts
    March 11, 2018 1:07 PM PDT

    AA's where great in EQ, until they started to nerf the hell out of everything and then force you to redo those AA's if you returned. Worst system those devs ever could dream up. My mage was destroyed, raiding mage that had to spend 3000 aa's i could not research it as all i wanted to do was check for kronos on that account. I had no idea they did AA redo. I just logged him off and lost over 3000aa's and that was the very last day i ever logged into EQ. I was so ticked they destroyed my toons like that. Raiding toons too. I was playing with friends on the TLP servers, just returning back and had no ideas i would be forced or lose all my aa's.

     

    How can people do that to 1999 accounts? just makes no sense.

     

    Anyways other wise AA's are a good system if done right, and not just hashed and thrown at people but do exactly the same thing as the other set of AA's.

     

    I am sure these devs knew what happened. Nerf after Nerf and i finally said NO more after 18 yrs of playing and spending on 12 accounts. Enough is enough.

    • 958 posts
    March 12, 2018 9:09 PM PDT

    AAs were a sign that EQ as we knew it was dying. The game wasn't good enough to provide enough to players without AAs. 

    • 90 posts
    March 13, 2018 10:22 AM PDT
    I vote no AA. It's a trap. If you want the game to stay challenging don't do it. It just trivializes content turning the cap level people into unstoppable monsters. Basically the cap level areas will become easier and easier as more people gain AA points to the point where we have yet another solo play mmo.

    If you are cap level and want more content you should make an alt. If the game is challenging at low levels like promised then leveling a new toon should fulfill that itch.