Hi PB! This is not going to be a standard “this sucks, fix it” post.
Background: My wife and I both play this game and are in the number 2 guild on server 1. We both have over 700 days played, and happily spent as we’ve needed to do to keep relevant, so long as the game has been fun. We’ve watched new and unique features coming out, and have been delighted at how fresh things felt.
We’ve noticed a trend. After about level 165, the scaling of resources to gain has diminished. It’s not uncommon to see individual items need nearly 12,000 stamina to craft. A five dollar stam deal would have been enough to bring about 4 or 5 heroes to gear cap; now it’s about 1.5 to 2. That’s including the newer 10% bonus stam. Daily, I buy stamina with gems til the point where it goes to 200 gems for a gain. Using this plus daily stam regeneration, I can reasonably spend around 2800 stamina if I’m on top of it and log in to spend before its capped. That rate equates to crafting a piece of 12,000 stam expenditure gear every ~5 days. Which once you count up the other five pieces of gear, means it can take weeks to gear up -one- hero.
This wouldn’t be terrible, if the output of heroes and gear caps didnt raise up nearly monthly. However, certain heroes themselves are so astronomically more useful and required, that not working on them puts you behind an incredibly challenging curve to regain relevancy. Worse, the calculation of resource expenditure for niche heroes who lose that relevancy, (looking at you, Gizmo), is not recompensed and effectively, shorts us the monetary investment.
I wont get into the eyebrow raising deals that pop up, (Fortify the Network contest? Hey guys, here’s a deal for the stuff you need to spend to do this contest!), nor the package deals for heroes that are woefully overpowered and necessary to compete. The deals seem a bit too perfectly timed with events in the game. A demand is forcibly created and a supply is provided.
The game has moved from fun to play, into a chore that yields continuously less bang for the buck. Invasion once used to be a fun and challenging event that has turned into a monotonous timesink, requiring now far more time and effort to gain lesser results. An entire city watch can be stymied by one person whom no combination of heroes can produce a win with acceptable losses. War remains well; people will complain about matchmaking, but that’s a player issue. Sometimes there is -not- a better option for the matchmaking system to pit guilds against eachother with. Arena and Colliseum are the same, and I prefer the current model opposed to the previous; it allows more flexibility and potential to tinker with teams and really learn how they work against others in real time and real life situations.
To conclude, there is a scaling issue within the game that has a propensity to worsen with each patch. A heavy majority of the playerbase can not sustainably maintain a money, time and resource expenditure. I have witnessed enough dear friends throw in the towel because the game had shown signs and slowly evolved into a never ending spiral that is impossible to break. By the time I am able to catch 15 heroes up to standard, a level and gear cap increase pops up, and at least one of those heroes will not be in the next 15 due to obviously apparent irrelevancy.
Solutions: Decrease stamina requirements to badge people up by at least 2/3rds. Doubling the amount of time between cap increases produces similar results. Increase resource gains of mod power and invasion rewards. The advent of raiding in surge, city watch and invasion are fantastic gains in terms of the time resource. The biggest joy of the game is developing a hero quickly enough to augment a team that opens new doors; getting them almost there only to have to drop them in favor of another unannounced release to focus on is antithema to the process. Natural progression of games of this cut inevitably gravitate towards being more “grindy”, but it IS mitigatable if detailed analysis of the expenditure to gain ratio is maintained to be more static across patches. A happy player base will spend more evenly, and reduce the gap between uber’s and casuals. Creating the environment that minimizes the difference will both maintain and eventually increase the active player base, without impacting any bottom lines. I’d be willing to bet that it would likely increase; if casual players are able to attain a goal more realistically, they’re more inclined to spend that 5 dollars and be happy they did it, instead of grumbling that they’ve barely gained a toe hold, much less a foot hold for their stage of game. The game scales well at the lower and mid tiers; but anything after around level 165 and the gearing / gold requirements starts to scale exponentially instead of uniformly prior.
Please don’t let the game devolve from a fun, tactical strategy platform into a game where you are rated upon how much time you have to play and how much you are willing to spend. That is a recipe for a game that loses its player base and death spirals and everyone loses. You can gage this trend by looking at server merger requirements to increase population centers, and how many average players have heroes sitting at cap and are actively used. When you see server merges being announced, that on particular raises the hairs on the back of my neck and my spidey senses start tingling, and I feel that at this pace, required merging will become a clear symbol that things are taking a sharp left turn. Guild mergers are often the herald to server mergers, and I’ve been seeing a rash of those lately.
TL; DR: Fix the scaling of resources to gain expenditure before the player base gets so overwhelmed that they find a new game to play.
I encourage thoughtful feedback, so let’s keep it clean. No need for insults or complaints about problems without providing some potential solutions, please! Mindless complaining is easy to ignore, insightful and coherent posts are taken more seriously by those being addressed!