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Blog Post 9/20/19 - 5.0 Changes & Quests


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#1 Duende

Duende

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 07:38 PM

Plans for 5.0 are shaping up.  Most of the weapon changes detailed in News
#354 have been added for next reboot.  Threat/tanking changes should be
coming after that, as well as more involved formation mechanics.  

WEAPONS
 
Some of the weapon changes ended up being more significant than
expected, which is sort of interesting and we're going to release as-is.
Weapons have always had damage and accuracy and range, and those aren't
going away.  Their values are changing, and are being normalized on a per
weapon-type basis.  All weapon types are getting a new attribute, 'Crit
Multiplier'.  On 1% of all successful hits, weapons will deal a multiple of
that hit's damage.  In the future, crits will likely require a minimum fight
duration before they are available.  All of this information will be
available via HELP WEAPON CHARACTERISTICS, and via each weapon's help entry.
For example, HELP AXE shows:

*This weapon type deals Max [112] base damage.
*This weapon type has Low [74] base accuracy.
*This weapon type has Min [0] base range.
*This weapon type has High base variance, dealing [8x] bonus damage on 1% of attacks.

Whereas HELP THROWING AXE shows:

*This weapon type deals Low [94] base damage.
*This weapon type has Min [71] base accuracy.
*This weapon type has High [4] base range.
*This weapon type has Max base variance, dealing [16x] bonus damage on 1% of attacks.

As future updates further develop range, every weapon should come occupy a
different niche and playstyle, making all 30+ weapon types potentially
valuable and desirable.  

CONTENT

There's a lot of new stuff, but most of it isn't fully developed yet, and
even when it is nominally complete, most of it will exist in service to
other, longer-term features which will be the feather in 5.0's cap.  That
means there isn't much to reveal yet, but what we do have already is
exciting.  Many new areas, new storylines, new marks, new bosses, and some
additions to the Wilderness [ https://imgur.com/a/o4vmnkN].  

HALLOWEEN

The Halloween global is coming, sooner than we think.  Divusmors and
Joslomonous are equipped with all-new loot, and are packing a few new
surprises.  

QUESTS

The recent 4.99 reboot brought a lot of interesting new changes, and one of
the biggest was dynamically re-evaluating quest rewards.  It's sort of a
large, complex topic which addresses a large, complex set of problems, which
merits some explanation.  

Materia Magica has over 4000 real quests, each handwritten by a person and
driving a narrative storyline.  4.0 is nearly 20 years old, and has been
getting worked on for longer still.  Game changes, changes in expectations,
staffing changes, and changes in the economy have all occurred in that
timeframe.  Given those facts, it should be no surprise that not all quests'
rewards are perfectly balanced against one another.  We like for our
features to be balanced, and we like even more for our assertions about
features to be correct and true.  Unfortunately, due to the scope,
importance and variance in quests and their rewards, objectively updating
all of the quests to be balanced against one another was nearly impossible-
we tried manually several times and it never worked out as well as hoped
for.  In addition, because rewards were imbalanced and everyone generally
knew that, it introduced perverse incentives that didn't align with the
system's general health- if Vendredi's first class quests are overrewarding
for their difficulty, why ever multiclass?  Why ever explore anywhere else?
Tons of game content was going stale and unexplored because there was a
known path for maximal rewards with minimal effort, so we put in the work to
equalize the quest rewards.  There's a lot of interesting game content
everywhere, and having all of it be equally desirable to explore is best for
everyone.  

The change has been popularly perceived as a change to quests, but that's
not quite right- quests haven't changed, but the variance between "how
difficult/how much work a quest is" and "how rewarding is that quest" has
been tightened up a lot.  Furthermore, as questers re-evaluate old
assumptions about their favorite places to quest, the relative rewards for
each quest will continue to evolve, which only helps incentivize people to
explore new things and try out unfamiliar questmasters.  

We have a lot of historical data about who completes which quests how
frequently, when, where.  The system periodically orders all standard quests
by completion rate, and ranks them between 1-100.  Lower numbers mean a
quest should reward anyone willing and capable of completing it, while high
numbers mean a quest is easy for the reward, and maybe shouldn't reward
quite so much.  Broken up by quintiles, quests ranked between 1 and 20
receive a rewards multiplier of 1.2x - 3x; between 21 and 40 they're worth
1x - 1.2x.  There is no change between ranks 41 and 60, and between 61 and
80 the rewards are worth between 83% and 100% of normal.  Above 80%, rewards
are reduced to between 40% and 82% of normal.  

Each of the 7 main questmasters has had their quests plotted by class, at [
https://imgur.com/a/LbtKp6R].  Each triangle on the graph represents a
quest.  

In the first graph, Lady Templeton has 10 quests available to first class.
These quests rank between 20 and the high 90s, trending towards the center
in terms of difficulty.  This means that Lady Templeton's quests for first
class haven't changed much, and a few are a bit lower, but a few are a bit
higher.  The green line, representing fouth class quests, is about twice as
wide, indicating that she has twice as many fourth class quests, and the
yellow line is twice as wide again, meaning she has even more third class
quests.  However, the majority of the graph is red, indicating that Lady
Templeton is a questmaster whose strength is a diverse set of quests for
second classers.  If we break the red line into quintiles, there's a decent
chunk of quests at the bottom, meaning a good bit of her second class quests
increased in rewards.  There's a pretty even representation of her quests in
each quintile, but the long, flat tail near the top indicates that she also
has a decent amount of quests which are pretty easy, meaning that she is a
good destination for a growing second classer who's looking to learn a new
town without too much difficulty.  

Now that we know how to read these graphs, we can move through each of the
questmasters.  

Lord Agrippa's graph is second, and the first thing that we notice is that
his graph's X-axis highest label is 300, whereas Lady Templeton's was 175.
We already know that Lord Agrippa has a very high number of quests, as he is
the seat of power in Sepharia, the largest continent in Alyria with the most
things to do and places to see.  First class (blue) starts off steep and
then has a long tail at the top, indicating that his first class quests are
a bit top-heavy, and therefore approachable for first classers.  Second
class (red) is pretty similar, but with more rewarding quests available at
the bottom, and a steeper tail towards the top, indicating a greater
percentage of quests whose rewards are balanced and haven't changed much.
Third class (yellow) has a tight diagonal at the bottom, and then a steep
jump upwards, and then another tight diagonal towards the top.  This
indicates something of a bifurcation, where Agrippa has a chunk of quests
which are relatively rewarding and another which are relatively easy, but
not a lot of quests which were balanced to begin with.  This is a key
indicator that the reward changes will work as desired- there were a bunch
of quests which were too hard, and another bunch which weren't very
interesting, and now we can fix both, automatically.  Agrippa's fourth class
quests (green) have a long tail at the bottom, indicating that about half of
Agrippa's fourth class quests weren't worth doing, and have seen significant
reward increases to make up for it.  There's some diversity in his pool,
which ends up with increased rewards at high levels.  

Lord Maldra has one quest exclusively for 120s, and it's hard, so its
rewards have been increased a lot- it looks like it's about rank 15, so that
one quest's reward has been increased by about 20%.  Maldra's third class
quests appear to be pretty easy, as the majority of them are at rank 100,
indicating a lot of predictability and easy quests.  Fourth class has a long
tail at the top and bottom, indicating that those fourth class quests will
also benefit a lot from this system- Quest 819, "Serendipity", rewards 225
questpoints and 30 practices to anyone who wants to take on Mother Earth,
whereas fewer people will feel obligated to complete Baby Doom for the
thousandth time.  This makes scalpels easier to get, increases the pool of
quests which are worthwhile to do, and makes everyone's quest experience
better.  The X-axis only goes to 140, and he only really offers quests to
third and fourth classers, meaning that Maldra has a pretty small pool of
available quests, and almost none of them leave Beltane, making his a good
destination for people who aren't very mobile and are willing to brave PK.  

Lord Telleri has almost no difficult first class quests, and while most of
those have been tweaked down slightly, he appears to be a solid choice of
first class questmaster.  Second class is more diverse, with some rewarding
quests and a big chunk in the middle, but generally easier overall for
second classers than first.  Third class continues this trend, and while he
doesn't offer many quests for fourth class, those that he has have seen
their rewards increase significantly.  This is sort of surprising, but
exactly what we were looking for when we started analyzing this data.  

Lord Vashir's quests have a mostly-similar trajectory.  The S-curve is
sideways, but his quest's rewards are generally unchanged, with a bit of
occasional spice at the easy and rewarding ends.  This holds true for first,
second and third classes.  Fourth class is markedly different, in that it's
much heavier along the bottom, so about half of his quests in fourth class
are relatively diverse offerings, but the other half have seen their rewards
increase a lot, between 2x and 3x.  

Finally, Lord Vendredi raises his head.  This graph is interesting, because
it again highlights the difference between lower levels and fourth classers.
First, second and third class quests all have steep rises very early on, and
then flatten out along the top over a long time.  Vendredi's most populous
quests are his first classer quests, numbering about 220 in number.
However, if you look at the far left of the graph, only about 13 of those
220 are below the 50% threshold, indicating that his quests weren't very
interesting, but were overrewarding.  Most of Vendredi's first class quests
have had their rewards reduced until they properly reflect the easy phases
on a small continent.  This trend is reflected in second and third classes
as well, where they rise steeply and are mostly concentrated on easy quests.
But again, fourth class is a different story.  There are quests in the mid-
range, but the majority of Vendredi's fourth class quests are concentrated
around rank <2 or >99, indicating that most of his quests were either
obligatory due to overrewarding, or never worth bothering with.  As the easy
ones become appropriately rewarding, you can stop subjecting yourself to
them, and as the hard ones become appropriately rewarding, you can venture
out of your comfort zone for big rewards.  

This was an interesting exercise in data-gathering and analysis, and
hopefully you have a better understanding of why we made the changes we did,
and can use this information to make informed decisions about which
questmaster reflects your playstyle for your level, and who can best satisfy
your personal effort/reward desires.  We have also quietly released a tool,
available at all healers at most recalls, a Quest Writing tool, which you
can use to write new quests.  We pay RU for quests we accept, and you can
use this to diversify the quest offerings of a particular questmaster or a
place you appreciate.  

As always, we're happy to entertain any thoughts, questions or concerns
about anything in here, the rest of the blog or the game in general.
Looking forward to seeing you in 4.99 and onward into 5.0!