So, the problems:
- The world is dead. Other than cursed shore, the dragons, and lion's arch, it's largely empty.
- "Dynamic" events are hardly dynamic, as we were led to believe.
- The reward structure is really, really bad. This is actually the main reason for the first problem.
...aaand now how to fix all this, starting with the pre-requisites and moving on to more complex changes:
1. Better event scaling. Currently events don't scale well for large number of players (10+). You just get more mobs in pre-set spawn points that get aoed down just as easily. Anyone who's spent 30 minutes in Cursed Shore knows this. Some improvements were made in this regard compared to a few months ago, but it's very little. Events with more players around need to spawn veterans and champions and add additional spawn points, not just additional mobs. Basically, things that are not negated by AoE.
2. Iterative difficulty scaling for events. Most events never fail. Why not? Because they're too easy. Anet needs to add difficulty scaling that's not dependent on number of players, but based on the number of times the event was successfully completed previously (on top of number-of-players scaling in #1, not instead). Every event stats at difficulty 0 after a server reset. Each time it's completed successfully, the difficulty goes up by 1 point. 1 point of difficulty translates into 1 additional mob per wave, +3% mob health and damage, etc.
So instead of facerolling Shelter's Gate Camp for loot every 10 minutes, one day you might come there and get zerged by veteran spiders. Woah, what happened? Well, see, the last defense barely succeeded and turned the difficulty from 7 to 8. And they had more people than you did, so tough luck. But now that the event failed, the difficulty scale goes down by -3, so next time the event will be at difficulty 5. This system will calibrate itself to the average number of players in an area and add a huge amount of variety to the same events, while the +1/-3 system still ensures it succeeds most of the time. (The scale is hidden, so people don't intentionally avoid scaled-up events.)
3. More events. More, more, more. There are a handful of basic event "templates" in the game and 95% of all events fit in these: defend a point, assault a point, escort an npc, kill a boss, kill mobs until the bar gets to 0 (or 100%). I honestly don't see why anet isn't minting these like crazy. I highly doubt they take a lot of time to make, given that you already have all the components... just need to put the pieces together in a slightly different configuration in a different area. BAM, new event. Reduce the frequency of each individual event to keep the number of concurrent events the same, but increase the variety. I'm not asking here for a brand-new zone with brand-new armored crabs and a ton of scripting to be used one time and then abandoned. This would probably take far less work.
4. Balancing rewards. The base reward for completing an event is pitiful. 1.5 silver, some experience that you don't need at 80, and a bit of karma that's grossly outweighed by the daily jug. (The daily jug was a good idea, but it's just... difficult to outperform it. That's a different subject.) The bulk of the reward comes from the drops and drops from a single champion are much worse than from aoeing waves of mobs for 4 minutes. Most of the time the champion takes more effort too!
The second problem is the disparity between zones. Events in Orr are well-known (so everyone does the easy ones), highly populated and give max rewards for level 80. Events in every other zone are the complete opposite. To balance this:
- Normalize the silver/exp/karma rewards for lvl 80s throughout the world. Seriously, it's a tiny amount of money anyway and getting 1.5s or 0.9s won't really impact anything. All it does is make lower-level events look bad.
- Improve drops from champions. Duh. To avoid causing inflation, do not flat-out make them drop 15 silver, but simply add a chance for each champion to drop zone-specific items. Each zones or a group of zones could have things like unique armor sets and unique weapon skins. There are zone-unique weapon skins in the game currently, such as "Steam" weapons in Charr areas, but they're easily obtainable and thus can't serve as an incentive to go there.
- Also add tokens to champions. For X tokens from champions in Charr lands, you can buy a rare armor skin (that also drops only in this areas), but weapons can only be gotten as a drop. Something like that.
5. Worldwide and zone-wide event notifications. Another very simple addition, but once you've really made events dynamic (points #1 and #2), added more of them (#3), and gave the players a reason to go there (#4), tell people about them! Display all events happening in the zone on the map, with an option to toggle it off, and display MAJOR events happening in other zones on the world map, like Orr temple assaults, dragons, swamp monster in Queensdale, etc. People will see events and flock to them instead of wandering about empty zones alone or farming events in Cursed Shore as a zerg.
Also, display this next point in the corner of the screen (under your personal story) at all times:
6. Daily zones. Now we're getting into more ambitious things. It's time to really create a dynamic world. Each day 1 or 2 zones could become event hubs. Balefire means business today and made a pact with the ogres to attack Ebonhawke! The entire area turns into a warzone. You know, the Charr are really attacking. Basically, turn the area into Cursed Shore + difficulty scaling (#2).
Hearts are disabled (Farmer Joe doesn't really care about shooing away the gryphons from this cabbage when THE CHARR ARE ATTACKING). All regular events that fit the war theme are enabled with a majorly increased frequency (remember, we reduced it in #3 and increased the total number of events). There are additional events active: every outpost gets assaulted on a regular basis and after a successful defense, there are events to march out and take down a champ or recapture a lost outpost. Again, this is all just copy/paste stuff (#3). Optimize the templates and then make more events!
As a bonus, drops of zone-specific rewards are doubled for the day when that area is a warzone.
As a second bonus, if a critical number of events is failed during the day (this could be a rather high threshold), the zone is under Flame Legion's control for next 1-3 days, every waypoint is disabled, you still can't do hearts in it (Farmer Joe is dead, his head is on a spike, and so are the cabbage-loving gryphons), and after these 3 days, the map becomes a warzone for the day again. Same events are running with the aim of recapturing it. This time it can't fail.
7. Live GMs. All of the above would do a good job of making the world appear dynamic, as it was advertised in the beginning, but dedicated game-masters controlling the world would make it REALLY dynamic. Provided there's a good framework for creating events (#3), anet could expand it to create events out of pre-set pieces on the fly. Starcraft's map editor did it in 1999 by allowing you to create custom missions using building blocks already provided with the game, why can't we do it on a live server in 2013? This outpost is getting attacked by X waves, each one consisting of Y mobs for Z minutes. Oh and there's a dragon at the end, which I'm going to personally control and target people with it. Go!
A GM per server or even 1 GM per few servers could further spice up the "daily areas" and add an occasional special event to other places in the world. And once again, I don't mean "occasional" and "special" a la brand-new invisible precursor-dropping crabs that take months of development for one night of lag. No, "special", as in, there will be a unique event somewhere a few times per day that's not part of the game's default package. You know, something new.
Well, that's pretty much it. A game like this would almost certainly keep me playing for years, paying a sub fee, and buying all the expansions. (Provided those expansions also expanded the above model).
Edited by Alleji, 13 December 2012 - 06:16 PM.