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A proposal to fix Ultima's longevity problem


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too much to read here.. can i get a short version?

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3 hours ago, CannaBeast said:

too much to read here.. can i get a short version?

 

We are not hanging out enough and having a good enough time in our imaginations

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13 hours ago, jespence said:

Does anyone know what the other servers do that is more attractive?

It sounds like Ephinea is the most popular server, so why?

Someone from Ephinea dropped by the other day just to try out Ultima, and when they saw how few people were logged in compared to Eph, they said "this sucks" and left.

How does above server attract so many people?

Do you need to mitigate DMC problems a lot more? 

In the post just above the admin listed several things but check this link for a full run down.

https://ephinea.pioneer2.net/about-ephinea/

 

Think of it as a custom vanilla experience with modern quality of life features.  

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Being vanilla is not necessarily a perk, I'd just say it's the overall design of having a game that respects the time you put into it, and also allowing you to play at any time without feeling like you're wasting your time.

 

Ephinea is a server where you're making progress entirely on your own schedule, you could play 10 hours a day or 10 hours a month, and you'd never feel like you're "falling behind" in any way either - your progression is on your own schedule. Missing an event is no big deal either, they give nice little boosts but don't have anything to really worry about.

 

Therefore if Ultima was to also follow this philosophy, I personally think it would do a lot better. While time gated stuff is working for modern games as a business model, I think someone coming back to PSO is mostly trying to avoid that sort of stuff.

 

For what it's worth gear treadmills are totally fine but it has to be relatively frequent to keep people coming back, like something new to farm every 3 months or so.

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@Zynetic

 

Thanks for the time investment you took here.
Interesting how you just addressed some of the issues I dislike the most.

I have always hated those boosts you mentioned.

 

 

Exp x5:

To be able to hit level 200 in no time is for sure hurting the game longevity.
I had a friend who left Ultima 4 years ago (who’s now actively on Ephinea), his reason was: “I’m bored now that I am level 200 with no stuff”.
He literally farmed nothing but CCA until 200, so his gear didn’t follow his levels and then lost any interest in Ultima.
Can’t blame him, but since then I often recommend anyone NOT to focus on grinding Exp in no-fun ways with the Exp boost we have, but temptation is usually too strong and then result in the same issue happening again and again. I’m mentioning CCA but when it’s not CCA, it’s TTF and same problem remains.
When I address this issue, I’m told “how is that a problem, if you’re not happy you can turn exp boost off”. Sure I can and I already do it for most of my characters, but here I’m talking about other players, beginners etc. Do you feel like telling them “hey there are powerful server boosts right now, those are so OP that I advise you to nerf yourself by typing /exp 0 in lobby!” ? Of course not.


I did experiment the power of combining Exp boost to CCA no-brain tryhard farming and this is the time it took me to hit 200:

unknown.png

(13 hours, not 13 days)

I used to see some pride and satisfaction to get 200 (or even high level 180+ on GC offline).
No need to say there’s no such feeling now, if not sadness of not being able to earn Exp anymore.

 

Green Name:

Rare monster appearance is literally 1/2 for some monsters.
This makes every single rare monster drop much less valuable (Heaven punisher, Lavis cannon, Syncesta, Psycho wand), if not totally worthless (hitless frozen shooter, heavenly units etc).
This removes a good part of what used to be considered good hunts during non events.
In most quests, you get lots of rare monsters in the first rooms then nothing more in the rest of the quest because of the 15-rare monsters limit being hit super early. Inciting players to remake their rooms rather than finishing the quests because of that is really bad in my opinion.
This even applies without Green Name actually, while vanilla rare monsters are absurdly rare, they are absurdly unrare here, you can easily reach the 15 rare monsters even without green name in the long quests here: Caverns of Gloom or Lost Master Blaster.
Finally it becomes an obstacle when you are speed running a quest and get those unwanted “rare” monsters.
I remember how I had to remake like 1/3 of my runs because of random rare monster appearances when TAing that quest you made.

 

Happy Hours:

As you said. Many (I said many, not everyone) just don’t bother hunting anymore when HH isn’t on. If it were only about me, I’d at least nerf the rare boosts from x3 to x2 so it reduces the feeling of “playing for nothing when HH is off”. But I’m sure this would just lead to dramas (even if I increased all the chart drop rates or doing more HH to make up for it).
On the opposite, when HH is on, many feel somehow “forced” to play, which is as bad. It is common thought here “damn HH just started, bye sleep, back to the corves for another 3 hours”. Then in the worst cases you start to break your IRL habits, sleep late, skip dinner, decline cinema invitations etc.

 

But my main concern about HH is not even that.
It is about how it just becomes a source of frustration and negativity no matter what happens.
When a HH time is good for a country, it isn’t for most other countries. To that point no surprise, I experienced that myself years ago during Christmas Event when I had to stay awake until 5 am everyday because that was when all the HH happened.
There clearly was a bias for NA timezones. For sure it isn’t cool if specific players are disadvantaged because of their location.
Then I became GM, and started to make some HHs for EU timezones, and you guess what happened: some NA players complained about the HHs I made: “who tf think it was a good time to make hh when no one is on??” (sorry if Europe players were a minority at that time), “that r78 just makes hh for frenchies” (sure anything between 2 am and 5 pm weekdays is a good time for France), and someone (who I used to consider a friend!) even started to call me names for being “so biased”.
But even now that I bother logging every single HH and do my best to perfectly spread them over all the 24 hours of a day with visual proof, I still see HH complaints...

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jB2zrdLdXs6tRbUaoDr8WX6EIr36FgQI2kyP7fasGIQ/edit#gid=1923746843

 

This just makes me want to get rid of HHs for good, because it is very frustrating as a GM to take your time to make things as fair and correctly as possible and still get blamed for supposedly being unfair while another random and careless GM who spams HH at same time when they like gets praised for being “generous”.

I even sometimes felt bad when turning HH on because couldn’t get rid of that thought “I know some will be upset at this HH because this is a bad time for them”.
Imagine using your time to do something good for your community and worry about their reactions before you even did it.
Some people say HH must be done only at population peak hours. Good, this is how we lost a good part of the already small asian population years ago (I got testimonies proof for it).

 

 

Anyway, none of those boosts will get removed, not only because that’s how Larva wanted his server to be, but also since that’s what many players still enjoy. Doing that now would just be a major nerf to the server and - I’m sure - would generate dramas and more quitters than newcomers.

 

 

<<Like, does anyone actually hunt Hard/Very Hard rares? No, they jush rush to Ultimate and skip to the final thing to not waste their time.>>
Actually there are still a few items to hunt below Ultimate: Photon crystals, trigrinders and addslots on normal, Three seals, Glide divine on very hard, Smartlink, Liberta in BPD, Crush bullet, Blood tornado for combiners, M&A60 Vise and Vjaya...

 

 

 

Now about the seasonal events, my opinion differs.
I like how the items are seasonal.


You join Ultima, there are so many things to hunt, you don’t know where to start… But Triforce Event is live! So let’s farm Hylian Shield for now.
Wanted a Proof of Sonic Team instead? Then nothing prevents you from farming that Hylian Shield and trade/sell it for Proof of Sonic Team someone farmed during previous Easter event.
Seasons bring a bit more life to the market.
This applies to Ultima because hit can be added, attributes can be swapped… On Ephinea, since you can’t do that, every single item with hit or specific attributes has already some kind of “uniqueness” so you don’t need events to get some item exclusivity. On Ultima, at the end of the day, everyone has the same gear with same stats so not too much point trading what’s all year round unless you are too lazy to hunt.
I see PBCs, CBs, Hylian, Lindcray etc traded a lot.
While the only non-event item traded that often is RR.

 

You get a reason to come back later.
If everything was all year round, you could end up farming real hard for a month to get everything you needed, then feel “empty” and not willing to come back later.

Surprisingly I like how the non-event periods somehow tell you to take a PSO break, so it helps you decide when you don’t know what game to play.
It’s not like they are that long anyway, we have 7 seasonal events spread over every year so the PSO breaks are usually just a couple weeks long.
Many of us see event ends as a relief. Finally the hard farming ended, and we can either do other non PSO stuff, or do the PSO things that don’t require Events: Cal’s Clock Challenge, World of Illusion, Power Plant Plight, time attack, challenge mode, RR/PD/WD/Glide farming etc.


Well this is my opinion (as a player who’s still farming a lot after 6 years here) and I know there also are many who don’t agree with me, so I’ll respect that, but we had a choice to make and we can’t please everyone. So we keep going with what Ultima was doing since the beginning and how Larva wanted the events to be.
I don’t know if the trend has changed, but when I joined Ultima, I've never seen anyone express their unhappiness about that, back in Ultima prime, when we reached 201 logged players on 12/01/2016 during Christmas event. In fact it was bringing a huge hype towards main events.


I honestly don’t mind seeing our player count drop during some short periods as long as it increases back the next month. It also helps the few players who play on multiple servers. Helps them decide which server to play on, depending on whether or not there is an event going on. (Yes, I can say that because I did play on Ephinea myself! I took the occasion when Ultima server was calm to do it. And ironically I kept the seasonal reasoning to decide when I do, trying to catch nothing but Exp boost weeks because starting from scratch on hardcore mode and refusing any help from higher levels, I wanted to grind exp as fast as possible on Ephinea to optimize/reduce the time spent out of Ultima)


And there’s also some satisfaction to see people back and get back into old hunting once events start.
I am planning to start a mini-event in a bit in order to fill a part of the gap that separates Summer from Triforce events (~2 months) but for sure I don’t expect people not to play anymore until the next time I do it (if it ever happens again), or to totally erase non-event time.


I don’t want Ultima to become some kind of “new items factory”. I know many people here would love that and see it as a reason to “play again”, but it is hard to add an item worthy of use without breaking the gameplay balance or outclassing another existing item (my biggest concern).
Then we get even more item requests. I remember when Psycho Raven was males only, I decided to release Mille Faucilles for female rangers because that gender bias within a same class didn’t make sense to me. It is weaker but has slightly different features (range, autolock). 
To that extent, nothing was left behind: Mille Marteaux is required to make Mille Faucilles, Dual Bird and Guld Milla are still usable by hunters who can’t access MF...
But then the logic about how Rangers should be the ones specialized in (mech)guns poofed: I started to see a lot of requests for releasing a new strong mechgun for Hucaseal/Hunewearl so they can compete with their ranger mates, and lately I even got requests for releasing a new strong mechgun for Forces because they are supposedly left behind… and it never ends.

 

 

You said people play on a server because it has people.
True enough, I’m still here because even though there were many annoying people who would just always complain about everything and/or make drama, I actually love this community and would have been gone for long if it weren’t for it.
But that’s why we are stuck here. Player count will not magically grow while already low without some good reasons.
With your suggestions of removing boosts and reworking the DTs system, I can hardly imagine using this as an advertisement for Ultima
“Hey come back to Ultima! There is no more exp x5, no more HHs, no more green names and you can’t redeem DTs for ingame items or stats anymore!”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now regarding the main topic,
Didn’t post before because I was specifically asked to shut up in the main post, point 6 :’) 
I understand “DMS would be super hard to get” but it’s not a good excuse to me. As far as it is obtainable, then… it is obtainable.
Even if it is just one out of 100 players, I would hate to see some lucky hucast spamming DM in random rooms. What will basically happen when at least one person does that? Other players / newcomers will see that, they will want to have that as well, feel like they can’t accomplish anything without it, they start to hunt it but after hours of nothing but disappointment, they just get frustrated and ragequit the server.
This is exactly what happens with PGF/STA.
Some don’t realize those are very end-gear items hence intentionally HARD drops. But since those strong items exist, they MUST find them.
They run they run… and end up just getting totally burned of PSO and leave.
Counterargument: but those items are event only and available for less than 2 months a year.
I guess but I’ve seen it happen too often after just one or two weeks of event, so even before event ended. If they were to be all year round, the rate must also be adjusted to become even harder (even though some may disagree, rates were chosen to be worthy of the events durations) so that might even get worse.
New overpowered content with impossible drop rates really isn’t the way to go.
I know for sure if DMS becomes a thing, we’ll get dramas “the DMS rate is stupidly hard”.
However, if it was more about cosmetics than “Gameplay critical” as Matt calls it, then at least I would be slitghly less reluctant to that idea. Like simply a skin swap for DM, that would act as some prestige without totally breaking the gameplay balance because of the very few chosen “lottery winners” who get their hands on DMS or whatever OP item (you listed Frosty Icicle Shooter at 2nd cheapest option, I can tell you this item is second in most broken weapons ranking, right below DMS).

 

tl;dr: -
 

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This Is Very Interesting Both R-78 & Zynetic Have Good Points. But Having Played On Ultima On & Off For Some Time Now, I Have To Come Down On The Side Of R-78. No Server Is Perfect But, I Like Ultima The Way It Is.

 

D

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I am glad this topic was made because it has brought up some discussion that has very much been on my mind.

 

I have to be completely honest, I have been demoralized and discouraged lately because of the server's policy of letting people use real money to enhance or buy weapons.  If someone can just buy what I worked to find, it feels like it delegitimizes what I just did.

One of the worst examples would be an 80 hit demons type shot, which is considered one of the essential gear items.

This item for the most part can only be obtained by money.  Sure, you can go out and farm the blank shot, but without the hit and the special for 70 DT it's worthless.

I could self-find items trade for the DTs instead of buying, but ultimately the DTs come from $$ and the item can't exist without it.

I can't self find any of the materials to add the special or the hit, and I can't find the item with more or less hit, but the item is considered core arsenal.

 

What about finding an event item with hit?

Not likely in only one month.

Ultimately you will want 80 hit.

Not possible without DTs.

 

See, I don't want to pay my way to 80 hit, I want to find the 80 hit, which is too unlikely in general and impossible for a 1 month event only item.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, jespence said:

One of the worst examples would be an 80 hit demons type shot, which is considered one of the essential gear items.

A few things:

 

1. A demons type/shot is absolutely not essential. It's very situational and rarely used. There are other demons weapons that are better in most situations, or you can get a Demons s-rank needle and it serves the same function.

 

2. There is a period for new players when DTs are hard to come by, but once you become established on the server and have a few events under your belt, you accumulate the fairly quickly. So much so that there are people who have never spent a single dollar on the server who have hundreds of DT with nothing to spend them on. 

 

3. There's is usually opportunities to add hit without DTs sometime throughout the year. There's a hit event on right now for example. Christmas event had a system in place to add hit, and that was less than 6 months ago.

 

4. The main problem with many new players is they are ridiculously impatient. About everything. Happy hours, getting a specific drop, when events will be turned on, getting 80 hit weapons, when green names will be turned on, raising mags, etc, etc. Players who are so eager to get to the endgame that they ruin the fun for themselves. Don't do this. Part of the fun of PSO is the struggle, and I promise you no one mind that you are using a demons raygun instead of a Type/shot, we just want to have fun.

 

 

 

 

As far as the original post goes I don't have anything to add. Matt brought up many things that I agree with and have suggested elsewhere, with no response. I think having players earn increased drop rates or green names or 5x exp through meeting certain requirements either individually or as a community would be a massive improvement than the current system. I don't agree with getting rid of the event cycles for the reasons Shiida articulated better than I could.

 

My post wasn't about those things, it was about adding something for players and the community to do between events, and I'm open to feedback. If DMS is too busted because Hunters can use it, then make it Ranger only so it's a marginal improvement and change the colors slightly so it becomes a prestige item. Nerf the range of stars needle and lock it to rangers, and so on. New players might get frustrated seeing these items and finding out how hard they are to obtain, but this already happens if they run with a GM using their GM account. Even if the items that are added that are nothing more than a way for veterans to show off, that would still be a positive. How many people hunt the D-photon core? And that mag is ass. Again my post wasn't so much about getting new players to stick around, but keeping the veteran players active when they usually aren't, which I think would lead to more new players sticking around. Because what keeps people playing on Ultima is the people.

 

Edited by jdhenry124
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I feel we should embrace custom made quests with high quality rewards, that are fundamentally designed to be difficult. 

 

I also think the folders could be organized in a more structured way. Like star difficulties over each quest and recommended team etc. 

 

CCC and TOD provide true endgame challenges that are fun to work towards as a team. But you basically can only learn about them through word of mouth or random quest exploration. 

 

I feel if you could have a "tier 1 quest" "tier 2 quest" etc. And a little check box next to it showing if youve ever completed them before, it would give more purpose to newer players and avoid that "endgame rush emptiness" it would give a reason (even if optional) to want to get better once you have the perfect weapons. 

 

Hell you could give some sort of reward for completing every quest once. Like a purple ppp mag or something.

 

HH is obviously a necessary evil at this point. The camaraderie and fellowship from everyone being summoned by the 'bat signal' is a particularly appealing and unique aspect of ultima (considering the community is frequently cited as the main appealing factor over epihena).

But yeah the whole drope rate thing can be discouraging. However its less so since r78 fixed the DAR system. 

 

Tl dr; i think theres still room to grow in ultima's endgame pve content. 

 

I dont mind rhe idea of shaking up the balance with new weapons making others useless, if the quests / places to use them also evolve. Unfortunately that would require a huge push for the community to learn and use qedit. But maybe lukcy was onto something with that tower of his. 

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