IMC Games Normalizes the Price on Tree of Savior Founders Packs Across All Regions

Yesterday, IMC Games announced that they would be increasing the price point for the tier 1 and 2 founders packs in certain regions in order to ensure players on the same server were receiving the same dollar to in game silver value for the Token. For those unfamiliar, the tier 1 and 2 packs offered a 60 and 30 day token respectively, similar to CREDD in WildStar or the WoW Token in WoW, which provides players with trading abilities and additional bonuses much like a subscription would.

However because the game did not launch with server regions to match the price variations, players on the same server had access to these tokens at differing real money prices while still being able to sell them in game for the same amount of silver. Imagine living in Canada and being able to buy the WoW token for $10 US dollars while still receiving the same amount of in game gold as those players spending $20 US dollars in the United States. Commendably, IMC took notice of this and did something about it.

Despite my respect for their taking action on this by normalizing the price across regions, the problem would have been avoided all together had they launched the game with the same regional servers they now have available. Nevertheless, the amount of flak they’ve taken for making this decision is ridiculous and is predictably driven by players who were able to take advantage of the higher ROI on selling the Token. The result is that Tree of Savior’s rating on Steam which was never sparkling continues to steadily decline.

To make matters worse, IMC also announced that the free to play launch would be delayed to an as yet undetermined date which caused even future players to unleash their well-honed internet rage, never mind the fact that the decision was the right one to make under the circumstances. IMC has decided to make sure existing players that have requested to transfer to either the South American, South East Asian, or European servers are able to do so before opening the doors to the free to play crowd. This should prevent the need for future players to be transferred as the regional servers will be set up and the founders players will already be situated.

One last note regarding changes to the founders packs, the tier 3 pack which was sold for $10 in the North American region was removed entirely prior to the price increases because the low price point allowed for repeated abuse by gold sellers and bots. This decision puzzles me considering the game will be launched as free to play before long. If $10 is too low a barrier of entry to prevent rampant gold selling what do they think is going to happen once Tree of Savior is free, which is a decidedly smaller barrier than “not free.”

However not all is doom and gloom for Tree of Savior this week, if you are a part of Steam’s North American region, the regular prices on the founders packs didn’t change at all and the discounted price that began today, April 21st, was increased to 50%; up from the 30% off originally announced. Not only that, but even if you had previously bough these packs you can now buy them a second time and take advantage of the steep discount on Tokens, cosmetics, and TP, which is the cash shop currency for ToS. Considering there is no other way to purchase more TP until after the game goes free to play and the dollar to TP ratio appears to be more favorable when purchased through the founders packs than it will be later, it’s pretty much a no brainer for anyone invested in the game to pick up one of the packs. Initially I purchased the now absent tier 3 pack for $10 but with the start of today’s sale I’ve added both the tier 1 and 2 to my account as well.

Tree of Savior deserves many of the complaints it has received on Steam and elsewhere from the excessive lag at launch to the dystopian levels of restriction on player to player trade but most of these changes to the founders packs were warranted. And if you have any interest in playing now or in the future, I highly recommend snagging one of the tier 2 packs at the $15 discounted rate. It’s one more way you could chose to spend $15 on an MMO these days.

Crafting in Tree of Savior

I’ve only just begun to take a look at crafting in Tree of Savior and what I’ve found thus far is pretty minimal. It hardly seems to be a key aspect of the game yet it is a viable way to obtain better gear. If you’re looking for a deep and intricate crafting system, you’re not going to find it here, however if you like the idea of crafting one or two pieces every now and again as the culmination of several quest chain rewards, then you’ll be quite happy. Before going any further though, I want to clarify that this is not intended to be a definitive guide, this is just what I have discovered so far by naturally playing through the game without outside resources.

Recipes are required to craft items, and from what I’ve seen this is limited to gear and weapons. Everyone is able to craft these items and the materials are gained through questing and killing mobs, not farming nodes of any kind. So you won’t find a list of professions to chose from or have to limit yourself to one form of crafting over another because the entire system is pretty limited to begin with.

Other than the weapons and gear you can make, I’ve seen no other forms of crafting. If they exist, it must be something discovered later on in the game.  There are several “crafting” classes like the Squire, Alchemist and the Pardoner however I wouldn’t call them crafters so much as “service” classes. If you happen to play a Swordsman, Wizard or Cleric respectively and select one of those three advanced classes you will be able to set up a shop in one of the cities to sell item repairs, improve gems, or even sell abilities. From what I understand you can have one character set up to sell these things in town while playing on another character on the same account. It’s a simple form of having player vendors but it’s more than what I’ve seen in most other MMOs.

As for the more “traditional” crafting in Tree of Savior, it seems limited to a handful of recipes that are obtained as quest rewards and as the occasional drop from random mobs. At first, most of the recipes you receive will be for blue quality or “uncommon” gear. You will have to collect several crafting ingredients as drops along with a base item, like a simple chest piece or gloves which can be received as quest rewards or random drops. Once you’ve collected everything you will need to have your character sit (I forget the default key as I remapped mine) and then press “2” to open the crafting window.

The menu will appear on the left hand side where you can select the item you wish to make. Selecting the item will expand the menu where you will then click on the boxes with plus signs to add each ingredient, name your piece if you would like, and then once you are ready press “craft” to make the item.  You will need to have your materials in your bag as they will not be detected if they are in your storage. Thankfully Tree of Savior is very generous with the amount of crafting materials you can hold in your bag so it’s not too difficult to hold on to everything you need to make several items.

Recipes rewarded at higher levels will require materials that can only be obtained by defeating bosses you will encounter During several quest chains spanning 2 or 3 zones. The end result will be a crafted purple, or “rare” quality item. This is why I’m starting to think crafting was simply meant to be a way to reward players for fully completing a series of maps and quests by providing powerful gear that otherwise can’t be earned any other way during the leveling process. If that’s the intention then I like the way crafting is implemented as it makes the gear feel more meaningful because of how long it took to obtain everything. It also makes it more rewarding because it’s the only way to earn such a powerful piece of gear.

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This robe required a recipe earned as a quest reward as well as ingredients obtained by defeating three different bosses over as many maps.

 

I’m still hoping there may be more to crafting in Tree of Savior, but if not I think the system works with the simplicity of the game. While it may be limited at early levels I like that crafting an item feels important once you’ve finally gathered everything. And since crafting isn’y a skill to level you aren’t required to make a pile of vendor trash in order to reach the next tier. Instead you work through the story quests to earn the ingredients needed to make a useful item that cannot be obtained anywhere else.

Dual Wielding LFG Edition: Creating Community, Developer Side

Dual Wielding: LFG Edition— sometimes a topic is just too big for a couple of bloggers on their own. That’s when we send out the call, and see who steps up to help us with the challenge. This week, in a special LFG edition of Dual Wielding, we’ve put together a four person team to tackle the question, “what can developers do to foster community?”

And make sure you also read what Mersault, SylWolfy, and Aywren had to say on the topic!

A few weeks ago a conversation that began with my frustration with games like Tree of Savior and Black Desert that fail to explain key gameplay elements turned into a discussion about community—what creates it, binds it, and what developers could do on their end to foster it. Sure, this burden isn’t completely on the shoulders of the professionals working on the MMOs we play, but neither should it be ignored by them during the development process. Ultimately, I think it comes down to encouraging community by greatly rewarding group play without punishing solo players. It’s that simple.

Before getting started, I need to make a confession. To some extent, I don’t really care one hoot whether a game encourages group play or not because I prefer to play solo in my MMOs. Yes, I’m one those people who insists on playing a massively multiplayer game largely on my own. That isn’t to say I never interact with other people; I enjoy running dungeons using a group finder tool, queueing for battlegrounds, and if I see someone who needs help with a mission or elite mob I’ll jump in and give them a hand. However I’m just as happy the other 90% of the time when I’m playing by myself.

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Secondly, I want to address the subject that started the conversation, which is whether or not MMOs should bother explaining the intricacies of gameplay or if that should be a matter of crowdsourced information and thus a means of fostering community. To the latter I say poppycock. Yes, it’s true that when games are confusing or complicated and require relying on other people for answers that they can bring people together because of it, but that’s just lazy. If I’m playing a new MMO I expect the game itself to provide me with all the information I need to understand what it is about and how it is to be played at least for everything required in the first ten to twenty hours of gameplay. Higher level systems can be figured out by the community but fundamental gameplay should not have to be.

That said, there are other ways to create inherent difficulty within an MMO that requires people to work together in order to overcome the challenge. Take Black Desert for instance. Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the games that does a terrible job introducing new players to the intricate systems that make it such an amazing title, even once you have figured out these systems the game does not require reliance on other people. If anything, the game’s design encourages players to go it alone. For example, during my brief time with BDO I was helping out with a guild mission one evening that was meant to be accomplished by a group. The goal was to harvest a set amount of lumber as a team, however we were all in different places on the map and we all kept the wood we personally harvested. There was nothing about it that required a group, it was basically a single player mission on a larger scale.

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What Pearl Abyss could have done to create difficulty and necessity in that situation would have been to turn the mission into a group effort requiring multiple roles. The mission could have read, “collect X units of lumber and place them in your guild warehouse within Y minutes.” To reap the rewards a guild would have to divide the work—one team to gather and a second team to haul the lumber to the warehouse. To make it even more interesting (and challenging) they could include a combat element, either PvP or PvE in which a third team would be required to protect the other two. The rewards for completion could benefit both the guild and the individuals involved so that everyone is encouraged to work together to meet the common goal. Here the difficulty is not poorly designed tutorials (or complete lack thereof) but an actual thought out system that rewards groups working together.

On the other hand, I do not want to see mechanics that punish solo play because most of the time that’s how I’m actually playing and I’m selfish like that. Tree of Savior is unfortunately one of those games that does just that with its “last hit receives the kill credit” mechanic. What this means is that I, as a slow damaging Cleric can bash a cluster of cute little pigs on their collective heads for several seconds only to have all XP and other rewards stolen from me by that Ranger who thought he was being helpful by using multi-shot. The incentive to group then is to avoid losing credit for a kill, but this approach, where solo players feel punished for being alone leads me to resent the game’s design, not relent and group up.

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However in that same MMO, dungeons are a much better example of how it should be done. Well, almost. Once you’re able to enter the first dungeon, there is a huge XP bonus for joining a random group and a smaller one for entering the dungeon as a premade. Personally, I would have done the reverse so that people are rewarded for actually talking to one another and entering together. Considering players have to physically stand next to the entrance to use the random group finder it would be fairly easy to do. But I always ignore the cries of “looking for one more” by those forming a premade group because I know the XP is better queueing alone. Regardless, the XP buff encourages me to group up with others one way or another and if something similar were applied to grouping in the open world in place of the terrible last hit mechanic, you better believe I’d be looking to join others there as well.

I know none if this is a novel approach to solving the problem, and yet there are enough examples of MMOs that fail to encourage group play at the most fundamental level that I still think it’s worth repeating. And even as someone who isn’t always looking to turn MMOs into a social affair, I would love to see MMO developers get more creative in encouraging group play. Not the lazy kind that comes from bugs and broken systems which force community out of necessity, but intelligent and intentional gameplay decisions that reward the formation of communities while allowing solo players to have their fun as well. I won’t always be first in line to participate in those community building affairs, but I would be cheering them on all the same.