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Dear WoW Developers, Designers and Community,
First let me introduce myself a little. I am by no means someone new to World of Warcraft. I say this because I have seen it evolve from the oldest system from the Vanilla days to the current generation stages of development and plan to stay here for awhile. I am a theorycrafter; I love to dissect and toy around with numbers, ideas and iterations thought of or designed around. I am an AddOn author which has written a few personal AddOns. I am a game designer as well. Though not one that ventures in the Massive Multiplayer market nor console games but more on the flash development and proof of concept demos. I love design and balance as it is something I strive for.
Why do I mention this? I wanted to give a little history on who I was before I started do delve into the topic I am going to discuss. I say this because most of the time the conversations are from consumers attempting to better something about the class they play, the play style they play as well as the over all experience. While I am here doing the same thing, some of my background has gone into the work and theory of this. Please by all means contribute and bounce back ideas. This is why I love what I do, there is never a universal answer.
So on with why I am writing this post. Valor Points.
While the game uses Valor Points (VP) as a form of currency, currently the gating on to which player gets and is rewarded by them seems a bit backwards from the design it was intended. Mind you I understand it was late planning, adjustments and design decisions which probed them in the direction they are today, I wanted to address and maybe throw out an idea to try and spark a work around or fix to the current issue of them. Justice Points (JP) were the original spend and buy gear points as Valor was the idea of doing something heroic or meaningful to upgrade your gear to raid quality items. While in practice this makes perfect sense, when it comes to inflation as well as execution the JP->VP situation flops on growth. That is not a design problem, its a mechanic problem.
If you recall originally Blizzard had a system which used a new badge type to handle each appropriate tier set they released. While in theory this was a good solution, the system was full, bloated and just down right a dirty fix to the escalating inflation of items and gear. JP and VP was the fix. The original intent was JP was to buy the level up gear or the items that you just couldn't get to drop. VP would fill the gaps of the raid tiers items and then everyone was happy. In CATA we saw the explosion and experience of conversions from VP items into JP. While it worked again, we got into the issue of farming and mandatory caps to prevent the feeling that you need to accomplish this goal in order to succeed. Again, this was an evolution into the right direction. With the evolution came the practice of allowing players all 7 dungeons at one time to gear up if they didn't have the time through the week by accomplishing all the weeks randoms in one day. Again, this was something that felt mandatory.
With the current design as it stands players are rewarded with VP accordingly by doing dailies, quests, through the killing of rare elites, through the continue efforts in raiding—LFR and dungeons and scenarios. (Not the issue here). The issue lies in with the cap. 1000 VP a week is a fair limit, some people are able to hit it effortless, some players work all week to hit this cap. I by no means am saying having a cap a week is a bad effort or design theory. It helps gate the progression by having players play, continue to play as well make it feel like it is non-mandatory. So then what is the problem?
Some players have many alts, some players have a single character they focus on. Some players have all the time in the world to play—others get sparing moments every so often. While the play style is separate for each one we all share the common goal. Get more VP for our time spent. As it stands right now with a player capping out on 1000VP, we continue to see VP being offered for all the stated ways of earning it, however you are still stuck at the 1000VP line. Your efforts of running dungeons sometimes are not the gear, nor the money but the VP and the time invested in gaining them. As I stated before many have alts. Blizzard was kind to us by introducing VP 50% increase to help alleviate the grindy feel of capping out each week on a player. This system falls a little into PROBLEM 2.
As it stands right now, some of the players I contacted to do a little survey of roughly 500 players (small pool yes); feel that the time in game is better spent not doing dailies/dungeons/LFR and other means of getting VP after the cap. While this doesn't seem like an issue, of those that I surveyed 319 players said they usually cap out sometime around WED/THU and they stop running these as there is no incentive to them. Instead they play other games—do other activities—farm on alts for rep as they feel bored that seeing the VP gain not increase VP is pointless.
Every problem has a solution correct? Absolutely not. But a mere suggestion in improving the quality of life for the gamer. The proposed solution causes the game to continue working with a VP cap and causes players to accrue gear accordingly at the same pace.
Increasing the cap is something we don't want to do. It was set in place as the answer was to make the game feel less grindy and mandatory. However with that being said, the catch up system was proposed for PVP and felt like a great idea. With a caveat it would work with the current design of VP system. Allowing the player to spend only a 1000VP a week would still be around. Don't change it, but the accrual of said points could be allowed to help make that effort feel less required but still rewarding. The catch up system would allow players who cap out and not spend be allowed to spend sequential weeks up to 4000 max limit and keep the players able to push alts to the next level if they feel, which also would not be mandatory.
Player 1 decides to cap out this week at 1000 VP. In practice this makes sense. After doing dailies, running dungeons etc will allow the player to continue to gather points above the 1000VP. That cap would no longer be a cap on the players ability to earn but a cap on the ability to spend. After this first week the player decides that he does not want to buy that trinket for 850 VP. So he just keeps playing daily and earns another 1000VP this week. The player now has a 2000VP stash waiting for the next week.
On logging in for the second week, he now has a 2000VP spending limit in which he can spend this week on his character. He decides to buy that neck for 1500VP. He now has a spending limit of 500VP left this week. Next week when the player decides to log-in he has a spending limit of 1500VP as the weekly cap is increased by 1000VP each week.
Player 2 decides that he wants to play this week and earns 850VP. While this didn't hit his spending cap he decides he is done for the week playing. He gets a chance to play next week and makes another 1000VP and is able to buy an item. He has a spending cap for 2000VP. He decides he doesn't want to purchase anything yet. He logs in the 3rd week and maxes out his VP to 4000 which is all he can currently carry. Since he hasn't spend any VP in the last 3 weeks, his VP spending cap would be 3000VP causing the player to still buy gear with the same amount of effort put in by Player 1. Buying an item for 1250 and another item for 850 puts him at 900VP away from his spending cap. Since he has 1100VP left to spend, but only 900VP left to spend on cap, he will have to wait until next week in which his spending cap would go up to 1900VP.
These two examples help balance the idea that people have different play styles but allow both players to gear equally by the amount of time put in and on the same spending plan. It will also decrease the amount of time it takes for a player to gear up an alt and keep current with the gear plan associated with the character.
Players as noted above have been given the ability to obtain VP faster on alts after a player has capped out for the week. Doing so would cause an inflation by making a character a farm bot while making the others easy targets for gaining VP at 50% of the rate.
Keep it in game but adjust it to the players spending cap. By fixating the buff account wide to adjustment variable based on the amount the player should/can spend on the given week, it would remove the feeling to need to grind out these characters past the cap. Anything over the spending cap would be just that, extra. The buff removed after the player hits his spending cap on the player for that week would help prevent abuse of this system by causing the player the need to over cap at 4000 because they have the buff.
Of course with every problem there is going to be a host of problems associated with a fix. Some of these ideas I am sure have crossed the Blizzard Developers or maybe it hasn't. It may not be a fix or a solution they want to try, so as a game designer I try to focus on the problem and come up with a few solutions. The original problem at hand was the VP being offered after a cap. A easy fix would be to have the additional VP just convert to gold after said player earns it over the 1000VP max to incite players to continue attempting to earn VP. The method of conversion ratio is already built in as we see during large patch changes and have a VP step down. Causing this would be the easiest of solutions.
Being someone that loves to work on design and philosophy towards game design, I just like to improve a cycle and think of ways to right what I feel is wrong with a system. That being said, its not my game nor is my play style something that everyone follows. This could be a design limitation on a grander scheme or the tech may not be available in order to do this as a system would have to be developed, tested and ensure that exploitation would not happen. I am merely speculating on ideas and design ideas which could aid in making World of Warcraft a better game. Please take this post with a grain of salt; in no manner am I saying this is how it should be, but merely a starting point to have the community throw around ideas and discussion pushed on the table. World of Warcraft continues to surpass my awe and outstanding in decisions and I continue to follow what the development team decides to do as its very exciting to see development leads. I hope you can contribute and please by all means point and pick apart this design theory. It is what makes a game designer's job better by ripping apart and questioning a way of thinking.
Edited by Mayplesmind on 5/13/2013 2:36 PM PDT
I would like to see a catch up system for VP. I don't always have the time to reach the 1000VP per week, this system would help me a getting more invested in my character.
I don't think that the +50% valors should be remove past the 1000 VP cap on alt. As a player with many alts, capping each of them can take a long time, the +50% is very welcome.
The gold offer when capped is not my favorite. I would prefer to get JP, and with them, the capacity to buy Spirit of Harmony.
The reason I suggested about the 50% stops at the spend cap is the scenario of feeling obligated.
When a player on Toon A hits the spending cap for example, they would get the buff on Toon B and C.
On Toon B, when the player hits the spending cap, to prevent the feeling of since I have the buff I might as well get the points now since it will be faster obligation I suggested to have it removed.
This in turn through would not remove the valor spending cap from Toon C though until Toon C hits the spending cap.
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