Monday, April 28, 2014

The State of Character Creation

Naming: The name random function works. Unfortunately it only works in it's own ecosystem: if you try to use the name by creating it via the regular means, an imm can (and will) still reject the name. What we need is a better system of seeing what has been rejected before, what will be accepted (without continually rolling name random)

My "solutions" that would improve the current naming situation. 
a) name fixes: Theres a list of pre-accepted names in name random; match the first 3 letters of the existing denied name and show the closest 3 matches to the existing name. 
b) a bigger name suggest list: give 10 names to choose from instead of assigning a random one. Especially since the random list repeats names you rejected less than 5 minutes ago.

Basically naming shouldn't be a yes/no. It's frustrating enough that you have no idea what is already authed and what Imms will deny. The system needs to give players more feedback as to what IS possible. 

Stats and rerolling: This is definitely the bigger issue. The biggest reason why this is an issue: it requires new players to have a large prerequisite of knowledge or suffer heavy penalties much further down the road without any chance of "fixing" huge character flaws (like rolling 9 str) having the wrong stats on a character makes it suboptimal and forces wearing equipment for more stats than you would otherwise need which can and often does hamper the quality of equipment you can wear later on. It also devalues their time and effort spent when they realize their character can't handle the sudden difficulty spike after leveling and starting to look for avatar level equipment. Worst of all, even if they find out early (and start rerolling a character before they hit avatar), some race/class/stat combinations take forever to roll. It's the equivalent of buying a new game, then being told you will start handicapped unless you wait days if not weeks before playing. Most people just move on at that point and I think that's a big reason why there are so few new players. You can choose your name.. but you might not be able to use it and you will need to wait for someone to say so. If you dont choose your name you get stuck with a random name or spend time cycling through a list of names. Then even after you get a name you have to spend hours, days or even weeks to get the stats you want... if you know what you need and if you don't know.. well you can repeat the process again to start again from scratch or submit to a handicap later in the game when it really matters. Sorry but no amount of promoting vote ROD will help when people start despairing before they even start playing which is a certain way to kill the game's new player population before they even start. 

Possibly solutions: 
Repeatable quests that "cycle" stats. This will guarantee no avatar is permanently stuck at their stats: simply how long it will take to refocus the stats into those you want. Eg. Str->dex->int->cha-> wis->lck->con-> str. Each stat will have it's own quest (or quests) associated with it. Completing the quest converts that stat into the next one giving no increase in stat, but allows for slow redistribution to "reoptimize" your character. Lower level versions of the quest e.g. level 10, 20, 30, 40 could also be used as sources of "quest xp" while the avatar level version would be more of a gold/time/equipment sink designed for the solo avatar to complete. 

Stat lock: You can lock a single stat to a single value while rolling (e.g. rolling a h-ogre vamp I lock dex to 18 then it will roll all the stats except dex) with each lock conferring a random negative but temporary effect with the severity based on the race and stat set as well as the value. So it would be "cheap" to lock an ogre's cha to 9, but expensive to lock dex to 18 because of the racial modifiers.
Multiple locks can be used, and each lock applies a cumulative effect. Some possible negative effects: -x% xp for Y levels (takes longer to level). -Z xp (flat) per Y levels (has to fight harder mobs to level at the same speed). x% increased potion drop rate for Y levels. -X random stats for Y rounds after a death. Basically allowing players to choose a penalty for speeding up the process.