I wanted to go over my view of the largest issues with the game currently, as well as proposed solutions/actions to fix the problems. My goal is for this to be as constructive as possible. I’ll say that while I list bots first, these aren’t necessarily ordered in rank.
tldr; remove player to player trading, increase pheons, start using projections and not rearview player numbers for content release
BotsThis isn't news to anyone, bots are currently a plague on the game and causing many problems for everyone. Lets look at the root cause of this entire problem. Lost Ark is currently a free to play game with unrestricted player to player currency trading. The combination of F2P + unrestricted player trading has caused bot problems in many games.
There is a big red flag in product management for me. It is when a team looks at a problem that no one else has been able to solve yet, and their "Plan A" is to think "we'll be the ones to get it right". How will you succeed where everyone else has failed? What makes your team special over others? These are generally issues that get ignored and then people end up in the same state as everyone else that has tried this in the past. This is what we have now.
You absolutely should continue to combat botting with the automated detection mechanisms you’re going for, but it can’t be the “Plan A”. Looking from the outside in, it certainly seems to be the “Plan A”.
So first off if you want to combat botting, you need to fix the root cause of the problem, unrestricted player to player trading. With that in mind, here’s the potential solutions I see to the botting issue:
Turn off all forms of player to player trading until you are able to succeed in the automated bot detection system you’re working on. This will push everyone towards the marketplace to RMT, but you’ll be able to more easily detect the transactions from there. There’s also more levers to pull to combat the problem when it’s pushed into the marketplace.
- FWIW I think that the VPN changes are already more aggressive than this one is.
Start punishing people who RMT. Let’s be real here, there’s very few legitimate reasons someone would be mailed hundreds of thousands of gold. When people are able to RMT without any sort of punishment it feeds into the botting problem even more as the demand is high a long with the supply and botting is more profitable.
I am aware of many people who have been mailed such quantities and none have had action taken against them. This is some pretty low hanging fruit. I don’t even want them to be banned. WoW has done things as simple as emailing the person and telling them “We know you’re doing it, can you stop?” And they found it works better than banning in some circumstances. Why don’t you just start there?
Now, I don't think this will actually happen. So here's some other changes
Right now bots are farming endless chaos and selling the mats. Consider changing the T3 endless chaos system to being similar to T1/2. All bound mats but also significantly more mats for a smaller time investment. Bots are propping up the material market right now farming endless chaos for us. If you removed endless chaos you’d need to makeup for the lost resources in some way or the market will explode.
Continue removing gold from low level quests (why do any of them still give gold tbh??), but add it back somewhere else. Increase later abyss dungeon rewards or something of that nature to compensate.
AGS/SG have been giving us tons of great events to help us push alts to T3 and Argos. With the most recent update giving us both a late T2 pass, and the express pass giving what is essentially a free T3. This is all on the back of the Naruni event which was also great. Thank you! This has created a new problem though. We’ve now been given a bunch of characters to gear up, but very few Pheons to do it with.
This affects the accessory market as there’s very little reason to buy or sell “cheap” accessories as most of the price is being paid in the form of pheons. Also, this problem is going to get significantly worse come Valtan/Relic Accessories when they start costing significantly more Pheons to buy and we have little ways to acquire them.
I’ve been told that part of the reason for pheons is to prevent market manipulation… and I’ll believe that for this post. With that in mind here’s some possible solutions:
Give us more Pheons. The simplest and easiest solution! We honestly need a solid 180+ Pheons, (2 char * 90 for accessories) right now to let us gear up our alts relative to how fast you all are giving us mats to level them.
Give the option when purchasing an accessory to use Pheons. If pheons are not used, the accessory/skin is immediately bound to your character. If Pheons are used it functions as it does today.
Change Pheon cost from being based purely on the tier of the item to based on the gold being spent. Putting it simply, a 50g item shouldn’t cost 750g to buy. That item should cost 1 Pheon to buy, or something like that.
The #2 option was suggested on reddit and I believe it’s a great solution to the problem if you are trying to optimize around market manipulation.
Content Release Cadence Methodology
As I’ve been reading the news posts and different comments, one of the things that always stood out to me as odd is how the release dates are being determined. Roxx and others have said many times that AGS/SG are looking at current player data to make sure everyone is ready for the content release, pointing to Argos as a problem.
I believe the wrong lesson has been learned from Argos. Argos was released too soon, yes, however the takeaway from that problem seems to have been “we should have looked at the playerbase and waited”. What astounds me here, is the takeaway should be “We should have looked at the materials the players were given and the requirements to get to 1370 and saw the timelines didn’t add up”. If the expected progress of a player had actually been mapped out, it would have been obvious the average player would be nowhere near Argos.
This may sound a bit rash, but honestly the current state of the playerbase should have very little to do with determining the next slated content release date. In my opinion a better system for determining content release would involve the following:
Upgrade paths and timelines should be projected out over the next release. It’s fairly straightforward to look and add up the average amount of materials a given character will earn over each week and compare that to the amount of materials required to reach the next tier. You then add on some amount of time to account for bad RNG and boom, that’s the next content drop date. Or you inject the materials required over that period of time to get the players ready.
You should be looking at the playerbase to see if your projections were right, not to see if you should release content.
Use this information to feed into the next round of projections. Continually leaving the playerbase in a state of limbo shouldn’t really be on the table. Not only is it on the table though, it’s seemingly the preferred mechanism to going about the content release.
There’s another problem with the currently methodology. When people aren’t given a firm timeline/deadline they won’t hone towards the goal as much. If the communication is “just play the game and we’ll let you know when everyone’s there”, people aren’t going to push their characters as high as they would if they had an actual timeline. You would then look at this an see “players aren’t progressing”. But in reality they aren’t progressing because they essentially have been told not to.
Lets look at how another game who gates content behind ilvl tackles this problem
Destiny 2 also releases new content and expansions and gates the raids behind item level. Destiny’s item levels are much simpler, and there is less RNG involved in upgrading your equipment so their projections are easier. That being said, when a new Destiny expansion comes out the players are given the expansion release date far (months?) in advance. From then, the players are also given the raid release date. It is usually a week after the expansion drop.
Players that want to go for day 1 now have a firm timeline to shoot for. What Destiny 2 doesn’t do though is communicate that the expansion is dropping and we’ll let you know when we feel enough players are there and you’ll have a few days notice that the raid is coming. I will say the communication from AGS has been improving in recent weeks. Thank you, there is always room for improvement though.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading my novel.