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05-27-2011   #1 (permalink)
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Default Nest Building with Lucius and Princess K: The Empowerment System

Welcome, Dragon Nest fans! I’m Desmodeus, the Lead Producer for Dragon Nest. We wanted to keep you updated on the progress of the game. The thing is, two of my Associate Producers wanted to handle this blog. So I decided to let them work on it together in the hope that the two of them might somehow balance each other out. If nothing else, it’s an hour a week where I don’t have to deal with either of them.
-- Desmodeus

This week: The Empowerment System
Lucius: Welcome back, Dragon Nest Fans! This week I’m excited to talk to you about the Empowerment system.
Princess K: Wow, Lucius. You seem almost… happy this week. At the very least that black cloud you carry over your head has faded to a nice off-white.
Lucius: That was almost amusing Princess. I am going to let that roll off my back because I finally won one!

Princess K: Won what?


Lucius: An argument with Desmodeus! One of the things that many fans may not realize is that bringing over a game like Dragon Nest isn’t as simple as translating the text to English and setting up some servers. Part of our job as producers is to evaluate every aspect of the game and make sure that they’ll work with North American gamers. You’d be amazed at the kinds of subtle things that can doom a game when it crosses the ocean.

One of the big things we wanted to evaluate was the effect of the “fatigue” system. If you’re not familiar with such a system, in summary it affects the rewards available to a player over time. Some fatigue systems will gradually reduce the amount of experience points earned, lower the drop rate of important items, or in the most severe cases, just arbitrarily cut off play. Dragon Nest actually has such a system in other countries. Players get “fatigue points” that they use up when exploring dungeons. Once a player runs out of fatigue points, they won’t be able to play until their fatigue points regenerate.

I put together a very logical case for why this was a bad idea for our market and presented it to Desmodeus. I think he was impressed.

Princess K.: I was in that meeting Lucius. I don’t think screaming “This is completely insane!” and throwing a muffin at Desmodeus really qualifies as a “logical case.”

Lucius: It worked, didn’t it? We ended up moving to the Empowerment system.

Princess K.: Yes we did. By the way, you do realize that that was my muffin you threw, right?
Lucius: I did you a favor. What kind of person gets a gluten-free sugar-free vegan bran muffin and tops it with vanilla frosting and pink sprinkles anyway?

Princess K.: Someone who’s sweet and healthy!

Lucius: Anyway, my belief is that these kinds of systems should try to help rather than hurt players. I don’t think it’s our place to tell players how much they should or shouldn’t play or punish them for playing “too long.” If they really want a reminder that they’ve played too long, they should do what I did – marry a woman who thinks nothing of yanking out the cable modem when you’re one boss away from finishing a four-hour raid.
Princess K: May I remind you Lucius, both Desmodeus and I agreed with you pretty quickly. Rather than penalizing players by restricting game play, we want our players to enjoy the game as long as they want. It doesn’t end there. We designed the new “empowerment system” to give players bonus experience rather than take it away based on some arbitrary clock measurement. The goal is to put control of the game into the player’s hands where it should be.

Based on my past experience working on MMOs, I’ve always found that a system like this helps to keep friends together by equalizing the leveling between regular and hard-core players. We don’t keep anyone from playing who really wants to play, but we give more casual players a hand in keeping up with the level curve. It also gives players an incentive to come back every day and really enjoy the game rather than burning themselves out blasting through the levels as fast as they can grind.

Lucius: Well said, Princess! I have taught you well!
Princess K: You certainly have, Lucius. One of the things you’ve taught me is that no baked goods are safe around you.

Lucius: Not true. I would never mess with the perfection that is the almighty Twinkie.

Princess K: What we’ve outlined is just the basic structure of the system. We’re actually still tweaking the system’s fine details, and we’re currently in the process of testing to see how things affect gameplay balance and the economy. Whatever the final system ends up looking like though, the basic philosophy remains the same – take the brakes off of people’s gameplay. If you were only familiar with how Dragon’s Nes works in other countries, we think you’re going to be very pleasantly surprised by what we’ve got in store.

Lucius: Exactly! I’m really excited about the way the game is shaping up. If you’ll excuse me though, I need to leave the office for about a half hour.

Princess K.: A half hour? For what?

Lucius: Dry cleaner. Lucius is making me clean his shirt. Do you know how hard it is to get vanilla frosting out of silk?
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05-30-2011   #2 (permalink)
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Kind of surprised they're removing the fatigue system, especially before it's released. Figured it'd be something like the coins in Vindictus and they'd remove it eventually.
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