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Let's talk about what sucks about the game.

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Sorry for the provocative title, but I want to hopefully start a discussion about this. 

I've been involved off-and-on in this community for the past 15 years of my life, and I think as most here do, we like, or even love, the game.
But we mostly do because of a sense of nostalgia. 
It was part of our youth, our formative years, I personally started learning English thanks to being daily exposed to it in ToP official servers
But I was too poor for them, so then I moved to private servers, met a lot of people, some smart, some stupid, some kind and some toxic. 

I was a kid then, and I didn't have much to contribute, but I learned a lot, I started exploring the very basics of programming, overall I feel it has been a positive experience. 

However, that's an experience, and I think that if you're here then yours is probably similar.  
That doesn't change the fact that the base game, and here I refer to the vanilla v1 version, is a terrible game. 
Now, some of us are attached to the "vanilla feel" (I'm part of that group) and some of us hate it, and play on more "customized" versions. 

I think it's time to reconsider our preconceptions, identify the problems, and think how to approach them. 

This isn't a "feature request", this isn't a "team search", this isn't me pitching an idea of mine as the solution to all problems there are. 
My proposal is to discuss what is awful about the game, and to propose potential solutions. 

A lot of work has been done already, but my superficial analysis is that a lot of it looks unfocused, or overly specific, useful, but it doesn't change the overall experience of the game. 
Yeah, the offline stall is an amazing quality of life feature, and I love it. 
But why do I like it the most? Well, the main reason honestly is that I can level up my pets while offline.  It basically is a workaround for a terrible game mechanic. 
Technical problems require technical solutions, however, I'm of the firm belief that this isn't a technical problem, this game was meant to have those problems so that the solution could be sold to the player. 

What I feel like that I can give back to the community, is some insight of the economic context we are in. 
This game was structured to do what it did in the old servers, have problems so that solutions could be sold to the players, we can't fix it because it's not broken. 
We'd need to some degree re-define "vanilla" re-design core parts of the gameplay, make things worth doing, so we can finally enjoy the game.

But there's a very real problem, how do you finance people that manage a game when the community is very small?
That's not a technical problem, but it's a very big reason why there can't be a single server that doesn't sell power for dollars, and there is not much that can be done about it directly, we'd need a community 10 times the size to completely move to a different monetization method. 

So, I'll leave this here, throw your opinions in the comments, please keep them constructive and write down what you feel is a problem and propose a solution, or what you think could be a first step in the direction of said solution. 
Ask people you know to contribute, if you feel that it could help.

I'll summarize and add my own in a week or so, if this post catches enough momentum. 
Have a good day.

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I honestly have been playing Lost Ark, it is basically a better updated version of TOP.

The game focuses a lot on playing "alts"  The game contributes to a lot of time spent on reaching your main to a certain Gear Level, and then focusing on your alts to bring it up near your main to help provide resources for your main.

They have a nice gem system/skill/card set system.


There isn't much PvP in Lost Ark, its more of you do dungeons together with your party, and beat bosses, and bid gold on items.


The "Honing" - as we would call in TOP "Forging" with + Equipments, is only to satisfy the player wanting to seek being the "top" equipment geared, but in theory it is only to reach certain Item Level Requirements to unlock/do raids.


They use auction house as well, to buy apparels, gemming enhancements, pots, pets.

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Okay, sadly there wasn't much activity here, not that I expected much else. 

So, I have two main sections for this discussion, in a subset of one I think @V3ct0r can provide some insight.  
"Feel" and "Mechanics", there is some interplay between the two, but I think we can separate things a bit.
At the end there will be an extra section with some opinion of mine.


Now, let's be aware that a lot of this was intentional bad design so that the original developers could sell the solution.

Look at this:


Problem: Characters are overall slow, walking (or sailing) sucks.

MOYLO Solution: Buy move speed necklaces
Actual Solution: Increase base ms by 10-15% for characters, about 30% for ships


Problem: SP regeneration is dreadful
MOYLO Solution: buy a pet & teach it standard meditation

Actual Solution: Increase base SP regeneration


Problem: A character with baseline stats/gear is basically useless

MOYLO Solution: Create a mandatory, very expensive, stat boost stick (pets)

Actual Solution: Balance stats ⇾ attribute conversion differently, shift investment in more incremental/distributed steps.


The one I summoned @V3ct0r for

Problem: Client ⇾ Server and Sever ⇾ Client response times are awful. 

Character actions cannot be aborted quickly, responsiveness is terrible. 
I've done only some very superficial packet analysis, and to me, it looks like there's an intended cap on how quickly sever and client communicate, I don't know the details because I have only a very superficial ability to read C++, but only looking at the sheer amount of packets other games send in comparison this game sends a pitiful amount. 

To me, it also seems like the server sends excessive useless information to the client, especially for rendering other characters, and too little of what matters (other characters moving using skills, etc.)

I think a good test for this is "chain following", if Char A is followed by Char B that is followed by char C, the server has to, process the fact that A is moving, tell B, process that B is moving, tell C, process that C is moving.  I don't see why a server in 2022 shouldn't be able to manage it basically flawlessly. 
Solution: I have no clue how this would be improved from an implementation angle, but it's something that I want to explore. 


Now let's go into the more "Gameplay" aspects of it:


Grind for the sake of grind

Simply put, some things are excessively inaccessible. 
Either because you need to win six lotteries in a row, or because things are stacked in such an unlikely manner that there is not even a point to pursue them. 

Take life skills as an example, some are fairly nice mechanics, cooking and low-level manufacturing are genuinely enjoyable. 

However, high level manufacturing requires rarer and rarer wood, which means that it's a pure time-sink to get stacks of an item that drops 1-2% of the times.  

This shows absolutely no respect for the player's time, and leads players to just choose not to do that, but do something simpler, with a quicker return on investment.


Some are actually plain useless, Analyzing has 3 useful catalysts out of six, 2 out of 3 are useful basically because they generate gold.
Crafting, besides having a 50% flat chance of failure before even beginning, has an incredibly bloated list of possible items, making even the fact of something interesting a lottery, and it's completely skewed towards high-value items (lv 7 UG blueprints). 


"Life quest chains" are a promising concept implemented terribly, at high level every character is expected to farm Sea mobs and Sea items, which is plain ridiculous. 



This leads to my last comment: 
The economic aspect

There's no quicker way to ruin any game than to have a bad economy. 
What's a bad economy, you might ask. We all know the problem that too easy gold creates on games, hyperinflation turns down people because they see everything too expensive, and they quit. 
And yes, it's a problem, but I'd say that most people are aware of it.  Well, it's not the biggest problem, because I'd argue that gold sinks are easy to come up with. 


The problem is resource availability, given that this game has certain items that are only available through Mall purchase this creates two problems: 

Overabundance and Scarcity. 

Yes, they're opposites, but they coexist, the problem of Overabundance is about the items being created literally from thin air, from an in-game perspective there is no effort/time investment needed to get those powerful items, a theoretical player with limitless wealth could create endless amounts of those items. 

But the economic structure of the game doesn't force those people to rely in any major way on other players, to grow a pet you can spend literally 0gp and only care about buying the marriage materials. 
Now, obviously in more vanilla style servers, there is still some co-reliance, so there is a somewhat healthy economy. But this doesn't last forever, which leads to the next problem. 
Scarcity, when a server is mature, most of the expert players have "maxed" their main characters, there's not much they demand, they want mostly consumables, they don't need to invest much more into the game to maintain their status. 
And at the same time, they are the most powerful, so they naturally win more. 
This is what makes a server basically die of old age, the economy dries up, people lose interest, and it stops being enjoyable for everybody.


There are more nuances I wanted to get in, but this post is already a massive wall of text, so I'll leave some days for people to read, think and critique this.



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@Maximilian Thank you for posting this. I was trying to find this info for a while now. As I am recreating the entire game in Unreal Engine I want to know what players hated about TOP. 

Also, don't you think that boats were kind of useless? When I played TOP and the people I know spent about 1% of their game time on a boat. The rest was on land. So, the question is, should we move away from boats completely or bring more gameplay to boats? 

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On 9/15/2022 at 4:57 PM, defohost said:

@Maximilian Thank you for posting this. I was trying to find this info for a while now. As I am recreating the entire game in Unreal Engine I want to know what players hated about TOP. 

Also, don't you think that boats were kind of useless? When I played TOP and the people I know spent about 1% of their game time on a boat. The rest was on land. So, the question is, should we move away from boats completely or bring more gameplay to boats? 

The issue is not "boats or no boats", it's that they feel like two totally disconnected games most of the time. 

There is some interesting gameplay part of sea bossing, outside 40-60+ sea voys ganging up on a single mob/boss all sea game mechanics are sluggish, the time needed to simply get from a place to another is too long and farming items in the sea is extremely flat. 
It feels like the original devs gave up on the sea in the first quarter of the game. 

My approach if I were to re-structure that would be : increase baseline boat speed, do not have the "boat" as an item the player makes, but as an intrinsic part of the character, have every character have at least some of their skill useable in the sea (with different effects),
Triple overall monster density, so the sea isn't as deserted, and take a hard look at consumables, perhaps making some manufacturing easier, or take out some basics (like hp and fuel) out of manufacturing and have it more accessible, 

It'd be very hard to take the sea completely out of the game without it feeling like a different game, but at least having it as a less miserable experience would improve overall enjoyment of that aspect. 

Thing is, this game does a thing that games shouldn't do, It shoehorns players in very small but optimal tasks, there is not much agency/choice of what to do with your time outside dungeons, there are "optimal" things that are way better time investments than others, while a "meta game" would exist, it should also be taken in account that time investment in a specific thing should yield rewards within a standard deviation of the mean IMO. 
This is true for all mechanics, not just the sea, look at class repeatable "life quests" (not story quests) for example.

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