Team Name: Narcissus
Character Name: Csiko/Surprise/probably others
Class Build: a2/sapper/scout2/fletcher/musk3, templar
Graphics Card: GeForce 650 [1080 soon, laziness]
OS: Windows 7
Internet Connection Speed: Cable
I’d like to start by saying a few things to provide some context. In an effort not to muddy any impressions of my own with those of others, I have not read any of the other feedback posts yet but will do so after I get this out. I am the GM of Impetus since its inception a year and a half ago. We participated in GVG under the old structure, albeit a bit late, since we were just getting things going. My primary impetus (sorry) for playing this game was for meaningful GVG content and all the key features that would potentially surround it, and after such a long drought since Tree’s last GVG, I think it’s imperative to give as much feedback as possible to steer this game back on a course to continued long-term success. As such I will be clear, but not very concise, so look for a tl;dr at the end.
Klaipeda is a very large server now, with a population spanning multiple countries and time zones. More than anything, it’s important to accommodate as many of your players as possible. The peak times for most players are 6 PM-10 PM, within their own time zone. This is core. The best possible outcome is that there are probably two scheduled time slots for Territory Wars: One that accommodates east coasters, and one that accommodates west coasters. Current TBL times show how badly this misses the mark, because for anyone within the time zone of the server, that means that 4-6 PM is too early for peak time, and 10-12 AM is too late. While I understand that this was a test for Territory Wars, starting at 10 PM presents numerous problems for your east coast players.
A possible resolve would be to have two separate sets of Territories, which become flagged for the wars at two different times. One could be at 9 PM EDT, one could be at 12 AM EDT. It could also be on two days a week instead of just one, fairly separated out, such as Wednesdays and Sundays. This is also beneficial because it creates a fairly regular pattern of flux in the server economy, which is centered around materials and items needed to perform better in Territory War.
While I think instancing existing maps is an interesting idea, it’s my feeling that basing the maps around their entrances leads to a variety of flaws, particularly with the balance of attacking vs. defending an already captured spot. I’ll have specific commentary on the maps shortly, but first, I’d like to suggest an alternative.
Rather than enforce spawn points at the maps entrance, which also creates odd bottlenecks in existing channels of the bordering maps, I actually think what would work better is using an existing map that you would be on when Territory Wars actually starts. You also have the flexibility to create spawn points anywhere on a map, instead of just the entrances. This also means you could have different guilds start at fixed or random spawn points, meaning there isn’t a giant chokehold on the areas right outside the safe zones. This means you are also not limited to having a map with a capture point in the center simply so that it can be accessed from all sides. A linear map with a capture point at the end (or multiple capture points!) would be just as well.
A standard example would be a map like Aqueduct Bridge Area, with a capture point in its center. There are three points in which the center can be accessed, but they are all very narrow. Once a guild enters the map, they are automatically assigned to one of the spawn points, which has a safe zone but a small one. Each guild is assigned to a different spawn points, and it could be limited as to how many guilds could participate in one map, depending on the size of the map. This would also ensure that no map feels too empty, or is too much of a cluster.
Some other really good maps for a centralized map structure would be Thaumas Trail, Septyni Glen, or Jeromel Park.
One of the more important features of these maps should be scaling respawn timers, that bring you back to those spawn points rather than bring you to a city upon death, and perhaps a bordering map or city if a guild captures the point, and it’s important that they scale particularly for the defending team. Doing this would make defending harder, but right now it is too easy to defend. Example: From start to 20 minutes in, the respawn timer is 15s for attackers and 10s for defenders. The last 20 minutes of GVG, it could be 20s for attackers and 30s for defenders.
Alternatively, just bring back a unique map.
Most of the map problems, particularly for attacking guilds, would be resolved by any of the spawn area solutions listed above. Right now the winning strategy seems to be, zerg as quickly as possible past all the other skirmishing guilds at the spawn point, get to the capture point as quickly as possible, and then defend it from the others who are probably smaller in number thanks to all the skirmishing at the spawn points. This makes it not very fun, and doesn’t really promote “good” play, just get there fast and sit there, because everyone will be far too busy killing each other to touch you.
Inner Wall 8
Inner Wall is a very large, complex map, with many narrow corridors. This makes attacking very difficult and defending strong, even without the spawn problems. While there are 5 maps to enter from, and 2 (three if we count the ledge above) points of doing damage to defenders, the very narrow passages to get to the capture point make it very easy to spread out a couple of core resources on the defending guild. This also means that attacking guilds will generally be attacked by more sides than the defending guild, because once you enter the small rooms on either side of the capture point, you are dealing with the defending guild, one guild to your north, and one guild to your south, usually all three at once.
The capture point is in a terrible location here, with only one point of entry, which is also a north to south move, making it even harder because of the narrow frame of view. The fastest point is also a completely linear dive down a very short distance, making most of the map just feel like wasted space.
4/21 Update: My assessment is mostly the same, the capture point is still in a pretty bad area.
Probably the best of the three maps because of very wide corridors, which shifts the balance more towards attacking guilds. The sticking point for me is the dead zone in the middle, being able to see what’s coming without really being able to attack the other side of it is interesting, but you can easily get stuck on terrain in the general area–as well as some of the other spots on the right side (gravestones? Something weird like that). There are many points to attack the center from, but truth be told, defending it was not as hard as I thought it would be, primarily because you do have such good line of sight on all areas that someone could advance upon you.
The client optimizations were fantastic, and anyone who played the old GVG knows how much it’s improved when you think about how most 10v10 and 15v15 matches performed back at that time. However, something went terribly wrong even before the client optimizations, which started back at the server merge: Desync which looks like this:
While this was going on I actually thought the channel had crashed, because this lasted for an entire minute. While I imagine this happened for some of the attackers in this moment, it happened to 10 of the 12 people we had defending. For the person recording, you can see that the log is keeping up fully well with what’s going on, and that we are getting killed by players we can’t even see on screen, who I assume are experiencing some of this latency but not to this effect as they’re able to kill us here. This was actually worse than anything we experienced when every single guild was at Inner 8 the first night. While that was small bursts of it, this was such an extreme example that it needs to be looked at, and it appears to happen when you are on a map, and other players enter a map. This is not limited to Territory Wars either, though the volume of players obviously exacerbates the problem. If you do Challenge Modes in Sausys 9, channel 1, you see this all the time, every single day since the servers were merged.
Fixing this problem will be more critical than any other to ensuring the success of Territory Wars.
Templar/General Class Balance
One of the most dynamic and interesting things about Tree of Savior is that you can customize a class to fill an extremely niche or extremely broad role, and it’s one of the things besides a GVG structure itself that’s kept me interested.
Guild masters of old had to throw the thing they wanted to do or the class they actually wanted to play out the window if they had any ambition at all to make a guild. Being a guild leader is a tremendously thankless job in any MMO, but Tree ramped that up to 11 when guilds were first a thing. Many improvements were made, but a templar is still largely required to operate a guild successfully even outside territory wars. When the templar changes happened, they were buffed to a ridiculous level, and everyone knew this day would eventually come. I waited, left mine at 350, and said who knows, maybe I really can play this other class, my favorite, in GVG. The one I couldn’t touch at all in rank 8 because one certain buff removed it from the PVP meta completely. The one that was finally brought back out of obscurity because all the balance changes made to PVP actually made it worth using again, because it completely subverted the defensive meta.
You want to defend a point in Territory Wars? You better suck it up and get ready to spam a couple buffs for 60 minutes straight and do nothing else.
It’s one thing when you have people who put in no effort whatsoever to their class, their gear, that they look up a build online and roll with it without understanding how it functions. It’s something entirely different when you have people come to you, a guild leader, to say “hey I know I’ve invested billions of silver over the last year or two into my gear, my attributes, my X, my Y, I’ve done all these things to make my favorite class as good as any other, but I was thinking that maybe I should just play my templar so you won’t have to, and I’m sure we could win GVG if we do.”
What do you say to that, exactly? Why should anyone throw a character away to play a class because it is so over the top and requires virtually no investment at all, just so they can simply exist for an hour while everyone else is actually having fun?
Templar is just not a fun class to play. Even on just a technical level. Ask around, most people play swordsman classes because they feel satisfying. You hit a button, damage comes out. You don’t have to wait, it’s simple on its face but has deep mechanics that make it appealing to people across the spectrum of skill level. There’s probably exactly one guy who actually likes playing this class who’s reading this and calling me a tool under his breath, and I’m happy you’re that guy. But no one wants to be that guy.
One possible alternative is to remove the class and replace it with something else, and give a small set of skills available to the guild leader only, which would also need to be far less powerful, or on far longer cooldowns. As for a replacement class? A support swordsman is fine, just make it equivalent to other support classes: Effective, mostly fun to play, but not so broken you can’t possibly take and hold a point without one.
Sorry, but PVP rules are just going to be mandatory in some capacity. Cleric buffs, particularly the ones which grant invulnerability (or close to it), ie: ausrine, bloodletting, revive, ein sof, missile hole (yes I know that’s not a cleric buff), and those like it should just not have the duration they do in normal content. There could afford to be more things that remove buffs (hi I’m a fletcher remember that skill that removes shields? Think of me, thanks), but unless an attacking guild is going to roll with 15 plague doctors with max disenchant, I don’t think capturing a point with a reasonable number of defenders is going to be tenable.
On the other hand, I think things like skill scrolls, dispellers, miko charms, etc. should be allowed, because as I said very early on, a war economy is great for the server as a whole. Silver sinks in this game are plentiful, but a silver sink where a player actually feels like they are more effective in a competitive setting, and it’s not too over the top, is great for the health of the game.
I don’t agree with allowing Leticia’s potions though, just because they are such a huge boost over other potion types.
GVG will need rewards. While maybe two (three?) guilds on Klaipeda are in it for the competitiveness (drama?), most players will need some kind of unique reward to stay interested. The problem is, it can’t be so extreme that everyone tries to cheat. When TP was given as a GVG reward, everyone and their mother went out of their way to make alt guilds to trade wins to their main guild just to save themselves real money on TP.
Most people in this game like cosmetics that make their characters stand out, as well as titles. I don’t know that offering a silver reward is a good idea, because it becomes a huge advantage, but one possibility is PVP-oriented gear, even simply for participating. I strongly believe a PVP currency would be a good idea, one where winners get a large amount of the currency but participants get some even if they do not win, but it should also scale. Example: Just zoning into the map should give you very little, if nothing at all, but actually capturing a point for a brief period, killing other players, or assisting others get kills should grant you more of the currency—just not more than the winning guild.
Another possibility is some benefit related to the map itself. Something like a crop that only grows on that map if you put your tower on it, or a different look to the towers’ exteriors and interiors depending on the map type it’s on. Maybe different mount types depending on where you drop an egg from guild missions. A toucan for a jungle-themed map or beach map, a snowy owl for a wintery map, maybe. Something unique, fun, and not game-breaking.
War of Emperium was one of the first and probably the last good GVG structure. Rather than say “don’t forget what made WoE good,” I think a better focus would be: Don’t forget all the things that made it not good, like standing around channeling skills for hours at choke points, and all the client freezes and crashes. You can do so much better, everyone here wants this to be exceptional and believe you have the potential to do so.
Remember that you have so many classes in this game that go underutilized and unloved because they just don’t seem good enough, or have clunky or outdated, unfixed mechanics.
And to the community: Remember that balance is hard. Don’t expect change overnight. And, quite frankly: Don’t be discouraged. This is a test and you should be participating to help shape it into what you want it to be, because the devs are watching so incredibly closely and listening. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about ensuring that we all have something fun to do together, long term.