Since we had that announcement on new equipment and forum was set on fire, with a 67% disapproval rate (could be as low as 50% considering that not all players use the forum) it felt like a good time to talk about equipment and their associated systems. It is hard to pinpoint a specific reason as each players evaluates the elements in different order, but all them were a result of the many layers applied to the equipment and their associated systems.
As i don’t have access to the data most of the points will use the core idea of the presented element when introduced to the game, how it changed upon patches and some possible issues that came with them. The listed issues can be addressed in multiple ways, the few “solutions” presented might not be the best (or even be bad) but the goal is to point out why the full package is turning less sustainable and limited for each new release.
Before getting into the breakdown i have to point out that there’s no good starting point for it, as the three main elements are directly tied to another.
0. Table of Contents
1.+ Skill Gems
2.+ Class Exclusive Ichors
2.* Random Stat Ichors
- Anvil Enhancement
- (Legend) Set Effects (Enchantments)
- Transitioning and Entanglement
- Seals and Arks
- Unusual Ideas
- Survey (first reply)
iToS release - Base game
There can be arguments for Gems to be the best and worst system associated to equipments. On one side they offer the ability to add substats to equipment according to your preference, however they have a massive cost to produce, minimal variance and cannot be moved around once equipped.
The major pain with this system is the fact the EXP scaling is too steep and gems lose a level when removed, which creates the culture of holding gems only for the final equipment, and once a better option is released you have to downgrade your current gems or work a new gems, and neither are enjoyable. There is no alternative such as sacrificing gemmed and retrieve them nor reliable EXP sources to make new gems faster (as the issue is the scaling and use limitation, not the process).
For gems to be less of a burden we need one of these to be true.
• Have the committed equipment to be relevant for longer
• Adjust the EXP curve so gems can be leveled faster easier
• Add means to recover gems without reducing its level, even if at the cost of the equipment itself.
The way the system is right now, the least frustrating approach a player can take is to equip low to mid level gems as placeholders and work on completely different gems to use later on, which might not be for the same equipment it was supposed to.
Another thing to notice is that in the current state the socket opening mechanic is pointless as only a limited selection of equipment will be subjected to it, and it only serves as a silver and potential fee. This also applies to gem penalties and gem roasting.
1.+ Skill Gems
For a skill gem to be useful it has to compensate the value of a standard gem in the same slot, for weapon/shield slot that means losing value on all damage skills in exchange for boosting a single skill. Adding up their rarity and the fact they are always destroyed upon removal, it’s not nearly as attractive as a option than using raw stat gems. Exceptions to that are gems related to skills with level scaling that is out of charts (which can be subject to another discussion) and buff gems on weapon/shield as the equipment can be swapped in and out with minimum drawback.
Skill gems could be taken as a all slot type and gain full flexibility (even if that means removing buff gems from the game) and even have an added accessory slot that only accepts them. A more interesting option is to make it a non-equipment gem and add some sort of collection tool, in which you can add all the gems you have and they will apply (team wise) to all characters at all time.
iToS release - May 29, 2018 - treeofsavior.com/page/news/view.php?n=1371
The least interesting aspect of equipments is the primary stat as that alone doesn’t allow characters and builds to improve on their particular traits, they are indeed needed but don’t have the same spark as secondary stats and special effects. Usually, the conflict between more primary stat, present on any equipment, and a couple of secondary stats, limited to a couple of equipment, creates situations in which players have to choose which one is the best for their particular goals. The addition of Ichors reduced (and later remove) the tradeoff value considerably as they allow both, but players get some extra room for customization in exchange, which is good.
Upon release, the Ichor options were limited to the Masinios equipment series and random stat collections from unidentified equipment. As the gap between highest tier equipment available and the non-ichorable equipment wasn’t as large, the tradeoff was still present but with a more noticeable penalty for those who didn’t took it (to the point it would be reasonable to say it in opposition, as Velcoffer being a reward). A player that couldn’t afford or craft Velcoffer still could use enhanced Masinios equipment or an old enhanced equipment for its secondary effects, this is removed completely upon releasing Savinose and Skiaclipse Varna lines (and further aggravated with the new upcoming equipment options) as the gap widens more and more.
From the player (as user) perspective, the worst issue with Ichors at that time was the low chance of extraction and the terrible RNG barriers that prevented that so promoted customization, it was good on paper but far from ideal on practical terms, and both were addressed later on.
The issues start to show with every new equipment release, even if the new base (ichor) equipment had better base stats they still need to be enhanced to be as useful as legend grade equipment, but it is just easier, cheaper and more effective to replace the secondary stats by turning it into an ichor as legend gear also has additional perks. With this customization tool the whole point of releasing new equipment is obliterated, as all that matters to it is the ichor value.
To makes things even worse, the inability of Savinose equipment to gain ichor (thus being significantly weaker and more limited than Skiaclipse Varna) forced the double ichor feature to be added, which completely obliterates any chance of a non-legend grade gear to have any value aside being ichor material as it has to compete with itself and an additional ichor. At this point it would be reasonable to have ichors as drops and rewards instead of equipment itself.
On its best, ichors allow players to chase what they want or need and eliminate all non-desirable elements, and also allows players to update their equipment through patches with minimum transition and stress. At its worst, it makes every non-legend equipment completely irrelevant, forces players into tuning the equipment stats through rough RNG (with a lot of undesirable stats) and puts it into the dev’s mercy of getting a new (fixed) option that is fitting, ignoring older equipment that will never be re-released as ichor material.
2.+ Class Exclusive Ichors
It isn’t uncommon to have direct skill/class related effects in equipment and these can work well, but not necessarily in a game that has 15+ different options per class tree. For this approach to work, every single class has to have its own ichor option with an equivalent value to others - even then, the effect is heavily sided a single skill, sometimes two.
These were initially done in a more bland aspect of boosting a minor effect or increasing X levels of a Y number of skills (that could be in different classes) which gave a significant power to a limited amount of players that took all the skills with amplifiers, which pushes players to take them and not waste ichor value.
This direction was slightly improved with Vaivora line as it took a single skill from each class (but not all classes) with medium to high popularity/usage and gave it a more personal buff, the issue however is that the power gained is too valuable to be missed and players are forced to seek that particular skill, even if they don’t want to. The easy solution is to have an ichor for each class based on the hot skills, which reduces the possibility of players to have all the 3 options incompatible, yet that cannot align with the game power scaling. Regardless of the approach, this creates an environment in which multiple options have per update but only have a limited range of use.
A more sensible way to design these kind of effects is to design them based on class core aspects or give it one extra advantage when using the class it is designed for.
Taking an example of an existing item (not released on iToS).
Vaivora Rod - Permafrost
Critical Rate ▲490
Ice Property Magic Attack ▲1885
Ice Pike Skill Level ▲3
// Gain 1 stack of “Permafrost” buff every time you inflict [Freeze] on enemy
// Permafrost buff lasts for 30 seconds, with 30 stacks at maximum
// When the buff has more than 1 stack and you use basic attack, consume all stacks of buff and cast “Gust” skill
// AoE Attack Ratio 20, Ice property magic damage
// Skill factor is the same as that of current level Ice Pike
// Skill damage is increased by 7% per “Permafrost” buff stack consumed when casting
// When “Permafrost” buff has 30 stacks, skill damage is increased by another 100%, and inflict [Freeze] debuff for 4 seconds
The only way to use the “Gust” effect is by being a Elementalist (only with Hail - Freeze) or Cryomancer (perhaps Sorcerer with a specific boss card), it has no value for anyone else. It is possible to create a weapon/ichor that is designed towards Cryomancers and allow it to be an option to other classes as well.
// When you [Freeze] an enemy, do X
// When you do Y, [Freeze] enemies hit for Z duration.
// When you [Freeze] an enemy, prevent all other debuffs to be reduced by time while the enemy remains frozen.
// When you use non-damage skill, [Freeze] enemies affected by it for 1.5s.
In the refined example you add Lethargy, Enchant Fire - Decreased Fire Property Resistance, Swap, Raise, Reincarnate, Slow, Stop, Hole of Darkness - Black Hole, Enervation, Shadow Fetter, Infernal Shadow, Tri-disaster Charm, Upper Level, Hexing and Sand Wall as possible effect triggers. The freezing aspect of Cryomancer is expanded both within the class and outside it, yet the class isn’t required to make use of the weapon/ichor at all.
Another quick example, for clerics.
// Basic attacks hit 1 enemy per 1 AoE Attack Ratio, instead of the usual targeting
// Every 5 basic attack hits, including stances, release a shockwave with X% SFR that splits damage evenly among enemies hit.
The effect takes in consideration Monk’s ability to hit twice per attack with additional attack speed, but doesn’t exclude Druid (Lycanthropy - Human Form), Sadhu and even Chaplain (with attack speed boost) as potential users. In fact, any other class can use it, but it won’t be nearly as quick or effective.
2.* Random Stat Ichors
More of a side note than anything. Random stat ichors will mostly create the same ichors, with little variance on which ar picked or not, as the amount of lines is limited and the desirable secondary stats are often the same across the board. They can indeed fulfil the need of customization, but it won’t create variety (even being random).
iToS release - August 16th, 2016 - treeofsavior.com/page/news/view.php?n=603
At that time there was only legend set of equipments was Lolopanther and the overall base stat gap with other equipment of different rarity was as significant. The cost for transcending equipment was significantly high as the only way to obtain the material was through Saalus Convent Mission. Transcendence was a blessing for those who didn’t had interest on higher grade equipment (due secondary stats) as it gave them a chance to stay relevant with weaker equipment, even as an expensive feature.
The option to destroy transcended items and retrieve the blessed shards allowed players to invest into transitional equipment and not be pushed into the definitive gear for any given character, or even replace it once a more interesting option is added. High transcendence wasn’t mandatory to clear content either, which allowed players to still be effective without it and rewarded those who invested on it.
Velcoffer patch added new ways to get the base material (and also limited the non RNG based sources) and had the transcendence value halved, with this change every single content onwards would factor higher stages of transcendence as a balancing aspect. Also, the dismantle option was removed.
This is the point in which transcendence starts to crumble. A system that operates on % will naturally generate a gap between extremes, and it gets wider every time the base value is increased. There is no good balancing point that allows players with low transcended equipment to be effective without making the game boring for those who have higher transcendence equipment, the weaker end is completely excluded when the other extreme is chosen.
Transcendence only acts as a resource drain and entry barrier for players to engage with given content, it has way less of an impact for veterans but is a deal breaker for newcomers and returnees as they don’t have as much resources to spend. Every time a new legend equipment line is released, the primary stat floor raises significantly which boosts transcendence value in proportion, and this could be fine if it weren’t for the fact that you can’t use your new equipment until it becomes better than your current equipment, and this is subject to how fast you can transcend it (in a system that scales the cost for each new stage).
To use transcendence as a balancing parameter the fluctuation has to be significantly reduced, to the point both extremes can engage with the content and not be pushed to the sides, but reducing the bonus value also reduces the whole system value which also makes it less satisfying/rewarding to use (though it would still be used even if as low as 1%).
Reducing the base value can act as a better option in this case as it reflect directly into transcendence, or even have both reduced. Considering how fragile the balance of extremes is, it is just easier to remove it completely and have more consistent stat values upfront.
Transcendence gives dedicated players a considerable lead (which is great) and gives them a power fantasy, but it also throws away everyone else, sets an entry barrier (based on pure stats) to every single content and slows down the whole equipment usage as it removes the ability to use it once obtained (even more than ichors). If that wasn’t the case there would be no reason to need to give players free transcended and enhanced equipment (through quests and events) to ensure they can play the game at high levels if they don’t have the minimum requirements.
4. Anvil Enhancement
iToS release - Base game
Anviling might be, by far, the most frustrating basic system to use, losing only to seal enhancement as a more restricted feature. The base design aspects of anvil enhancement are reasonable and make it exciting to use, the issue lies on details.
Since the game was released, the only kind of equipment that was easy to get were the kind that players use to transition to the next option, however these had little to no interesting secondary effects and could even be dismissed for a weaker option that had those covered. The amount of time and commitment required to get certain equipment made players feel like it was really precious, and once you see your dear, somewhat rare, equipment failing over and over on anvil to the point it can barely be outside of the safety range. Spending a week on a single equipment piece to see it die at +6 or +7 at most is depressing, and it gets worse for the longer you need to get it, like a month or two (for one single piece).
Even then, it can be argued that most of the top tier equipment can be obtained way faster nowadays due a series of additional systems, like opening legend raid cube with silver or doing more raids daily (with higher entry cost), and they can help, except for the silver sink. The idea of consuming silver through anviling is also fine, but the way it scales isn’t. It stats adding a fixed amount up to +10, then it raises by 4x times the fixed and starts scaling onwards. A stage of the process that started at 100.000 silver can end up costing 100 times at the last stage (in this case, 10m), and that ignoring the cost of in betweens. To put in perspective, maxing a 2h weapon anviling, without failing a single time, costs a total of 139.023.446 silver using regular anvils.
The penalty from failing on anvils isn’t just losing progress, it’s also the scaling silver amount spent and the additional cost from following attempts, and that stacks on top of how many equipments, both of the same and different pieces, you try to enhance. All that is locked behind the equipment potential (limiting the amount of tries), if a player decides to take the challenge of getting enhancement past X value it will have to roll an obscene amount silver and on multiple units just to try it out, and that excluding the work and resources involved in getting them in the first place. All that so it can then be subjected to other layers of enhancement that also have their own cost.
On paper, anvil should work as a good silver sink that rewards those who invest on it by giving equipment more value, but the execution is more of a trap to drain resources as most other options to enhance equipment and character are more cost effective and faster results. If the means to obtain equipment were easier and the scaling cost was lower, players could feel less burned when failing anviling and even try it over and over until they reach a satisfying point. Lowering the cap also helps with it as players will likely take the risk the closer they get to it, even if the success ratios are slightly lower.
5. Set Effects
iToS release - Base game
Release equipment set effects were limited, had varied combinations (one rare case being top and bottom only) and provided a small bonus for completion. These three elements created conflict of interest when deciding which equipment to use, players had the option to go for a non-set equipment piece for it’s additional stats and effects or even take mix it with an incomplete set for some small bonus. At this state, set effects ranged from a bonus to a noticeable boost to niche classes and builds, players that didn’t needed it weren’t punished for not getting it.
With the introduction of the Velcoffer equipment line this aspect was changed completely, as it gave players the ability to have a specific set bonus (even though it was random) unrelated to the armor type. Aside the usual extra stats, the set bonus now granted an exclusive skill as its final reward, fitting reward for the investment and time required to complete it. Immediately, this creates an issue in which the interest of a set is moved from a particular effect or stats into an exclusive skill that has major impact in combat, and the stronger the element is the less of an optional feature it becomes.
This approach worked while Velcoffer was the only legend equipment with such features, but became less friendly for each new legend equipment line addition, the reason being its own premium feature. Since each equipment line had different set options, there was no transitional point for players that completed their set. If the new set had a more interesting skill to use or was just flat out stronger, you had either to process it for months until it is ready to use (which isn’t fun) or throw away the previous set exclusive skill and use new pieces once they’re ready to go (with a significant power drop). It became stable after adding Skiaclipse as it was the final addition for a long time, but with the announcement of a new equipment line this process starts over again. To be reasonable, there is a minimum transition option through weapons and shield/trinket (plus weapon swap), but it’s too little, yet moving the skill to a lower number of pieces isn’t an option either.
If equipment could be used upon acquisition and set effects were a default feature, that wouldn’t be much of an issue, but all the processing required to move to the next set prevents players from using the new equipment until all of it is ready.
6. Transitioning and Entanglement
On every single category above i said something about transitioning equipment, and that is because this is a very important aspect of the game in the current state, just because it is so slow. The way the game is designed right now, players have to reach a minimum stat threshold to participate in regular content and this can only be achieved through equipment power, which locks players into the strongest equipment they have available.
This is where all the negatives of each individual items are amplified, each one clashes with at least one aspect as they work in conjunction. Anvil enhancement promotes the idea of discarding equipment in favor of making a better version, but has a minor impact when compared with transcendence, that also has a considerable cost, and cannot be done later. The stat checks used in game factor in transcendence, which slows down the ability to replaced equipment as it has to be in an equivalent transcendence stage. As gems have extraction penalty, they are subject to be applied as the last enhancement element, taken as if it were a permanent action. On top of that we have set effects, which locks the ability to replace equipment unless all of them have gone through all the listed processes.
Ichors offer the most flexibility within the equipment and associated systems but, combined with legend equipment and set effects, also remove the interest of using the base equipment. All these elements remove a basic aspect of any RPG, the ability to instantly use equipment at the moment you obtain it and enjoy the ride. Every single equipment obtained has to go under some kind of processing mechanisms before it can be used, which only delays the satisfaction of using it (which is already a brief feeling).
Assuming equipment pieces need in average of 1 week to be ready to use (which might be less than the real average), it would take a month and a half for a player to change its equipment while it already has functional parts, yet this scenario ignores collecting multiple copies for anvil enhancement and how much daily play time is required to do it.
A “positive” aspect that can be taken from transitioning is that the old set can be reused on a different character, that however only applies to characters from similar roles with similar strengths and weaknesses as you cannot change the armor material, may not be able to reuse the main hand and offhand equipment, might have to replace the set effect and get new ichors for it (both being minor aspects in comparison). Gems may be the biggest deal breaker as a magical set will not work for a physical character, and skill gems are likely to be wasted completely. Even then, Velcoffer, with lower base stats and older set effects, and Savinose, unable to equip higher level random ichors and sandra magnifiers, equipment already are outdated for the current content stat check, and will likely be shoved away with the next released.
A reason for the massive disapproval of the new legend equipment line might be the fact players don’t want to go over all these processes again to keep enjoying the game instead of doing chores.
7. Seals and Arks
The reason those two are past assembly element is because they are standalone elements. Seals were presented as a new engaging equipment piece that can be leveled which, again, sounds interesting on paper, but turned out to be the most frustrating feature to handle as it cannot be leveled without seals from the same series and level. That wouldn’t be as much of an issue if seals weren’t destroyed upon failure or at least accepted other seals from different series as leveling material. There is a new band-aid addition coming with the new patch, but that’s not nearly enough. Aside that, seals have two design issues - boruta stagnation and base class limitation.
Boruta stagnation effect was caused by the decision to limit Dragon Strength buff into a seal exclusive effect, as result the only attempt to make a new seal line failed as it cannot compete with the massive boosts provided to equipment set and accessories, yet it had the same leveling cost. Without new seal lines, the whole concept loses meaning aside being the Dragon Strength slot, yet releasing a new seal line that can replace it might cause a ruckus as it is locked behind a dedicated content. It seems clear that seals failed on their job when arks were added using the same basic principles, but having addressed all the negative aspects - leveling, restrictions, options and flexibility.
The base class restriction ensures players need multiple variants of the boruta seal (even more considering the leveling seals) if they want access that same power with a different character, which, in conjunction with the other systems associated to equipment, discourages players to invest into multiple different characters. As much as i understand and support the idea of having an exclusive reward for a limited and dedicated content, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to limit a whole system aspect to it.
8. Unusual Ideas
At most sections i left one of two approaches to reduce the frustration of each system, but they were all directed to the individual elements. There are other options that aren’t direct nor intuitive, as those are more in the crazier side i’ll list them in this individual category along the problem it is addressing.
Restore equipment base value
Issue - Due all the associated systems applied as minimum requirements, players can’t use equipment once obtained, demanding a considerable amount of resources while delaying the update process and satisfaction of using it.
Alternative - Remove the transcendence and ichor features, restoring the them into individual pieces with the same potential (minimum of 1) and enhancement value as the legend grade equipment it was added to, along giving the legend grade its own secondary effects. In addition, add an NPC that allows both legend grade equipment and former ichor equipment to be exchanged to any sort of equipment from the same type (as happened before) and keep the enhancements. At last, add a shop service that increases the equipment level (adjusting base stats in proportion) temporarily and a feature that does it permanently.
Benefits - Allows ANY equipment to be used based on personal preference, even if it takes 2 minutes to buff it in town. In addition, players can dedicate their resources to their favorite equipment and not be blindsided by new updates.
Side effects - All new equipment has to be designed to be somehow more attractive than older options (but not to all players simultaneously). If anvil enhancement isn’t adjusted to this change, investing on lower level equipment might end up as a better option than getting new gear.
Unbind set skills
Issue - Set skills lock the ability to change equipment unless the whole new set is ready.
Alternative - Rework seals to into a non-class related equipment that carries the ability to use exclusive non-class skills (such as Kraujas Seal, Corup Seal and Ataka Seal), giving players a free fully functional seal for each full set.
Benefits - Allows players to replace equipment with a lower drawback and gives them the ability to choose whichever skill they want, regardless of what equipment they decide to use and even swap them at will.
Side effects - New means to acquire seals are required, along a new reward for Boruta (or new Boruta exclusive seals).
Note - In this scenario, it can even be merged with arks (or done as arks), as some have a similar approach already.
I won’t try to make a conclusion for this as i may have missed something important and the general points are already there. If any of these is wrong, incomplete or a valuable detail was overlooked (including the survey), please reply - this time i don’t intend to argue past what i said already (except for direct questions).
What i really ask is to participate on the survey bellow (and even get friends to vote as well). I’m not sure if the forum will handle it correctly but i like it to be open instead of using a something like google forms, that needs me to publish and updated the data (even at the cost of better tools). I hope it will work as intended, else i’ll edit this post with a survey link and update the results daily on the first reply.