So, I’m not really sure how to get into this, or how to really open, but I suppose I oughta touch on a couple of things before we get rolling.
Firstly, this post is going to be quite large and I want to make sure that I detail as much as possible. I did end up trimming out a lot of the bulk and pointless junk to get it down to a reasonable size, but while I understand that it may take a fair bit of time for everyone to read, I would appreciate it greatly if you could take the time, when it’s convenient of course. It’s important because this marks potentially a rather sharp turning point for Clementine as a whole, and I can only really take people's silence as either not caring, or happy enough to not complain. If you do care about Clementine, or just PSU in general, then this may be for you.
Secondly, most of this is just on paper right now. While GAS is in the works and some other things have been implemented and tested, a lot of it is held off with the concern that, well, maybe this isn’t what anyone wanted after all and maybe I am wrong. I don’t want to waste my time doing all of this if people are going to hate it regardless, so we’ll see. This is mostly just a discussion, with the majority of content in this post not even being started, only considered and experimented with.
Thirdly, I realize that there’s a lot here that most people probably don’t care for, and that’s fine. I’ll be marking sections out, so you’re welcome to comment on anything that takes your interest or concern. However, because a lot of the system and ideas detailed in this post tend to cross at some point or another, there was no definitive way to write this so it would be clean, unfortunately. I hate to say it, but there are parts you may need to re-read again, when it's convenient for you. Specifically, the sections pertaining to Prototypes, Grinding, and Drops. Read it top to bottom a couple of times, it will hopefully make more sense on the 2nd pass.
For everyone that can't be bothered, I suppose you could just skim through the questions in the poll, but you will be missing out on important context and reasoning. I appreciate everyone's input and feed back, but just keep that in mind. Thanks, let's go...
The Original Plan
The original plan for Clementine when it launched was to give you the game, at least what was finished of it. There was to be a short period where the level cap sat comfortably at 50 or 60 to ensure that everything was ok and that there were no major errors. At worst it would only be the early game that I would have to compensate for in the event of a disaster. After the initial 2-4 week period we were supposed to make hasty progress toward 180.
That's what I wanted, but I guess we crawled. All of the content is being dripped out like it’s new and amazing and wow, like we spent weeks making it all. I ask myself quite often, what’s honestly the point of me saying that Clementine will provide all of the working and implemented content, when half of it is withheld? It wasn’t exactly my intention, but I’m sorry, I guess.
I was told that it would be possible to get the drops done in time, but in reality it turned out to be a lot more time and effort to get these level cap updates out. I don’t fault anyone, it’s a lot of work, and there’s more to life than PSU. If I’d known ahead of time that it would flow like this then things would have been very different.
The energy and time spent over the past 10 months was supposed to be spent on custom content, custom events, everything we can do after 180 to add more to the game and to finish unimplemented features. After all, Clementine isn’t “finished” per se, it’s just in a state where I no longer have to wipe your data to continue.
So what’s the idea?
I’ve been thinking a lot about what should probably happen, and what I’d like to happen. Around the time IC came out I started to get more serious about it and the odd bit of experimenting began. With everyone's help, we’ve been testing and experimenting to provide a major course correction for Clementine, and below is where we currently stand.
Please keep in mind, these changes are actually being tested. A lot. All of these proposals come from the fact that we’ve put in the time to experience the problems, and the time to test every applicable solution.
Extended (aka “Operation Unfuck”, aka "OUF")
I would like to tell you about "Extended", aka "Operation Unfuck". It is in effect a combination of implemented game features, both new and old; fixes, adjustments and general changes. Think of it as a set of expansion packs. Expansion packs, because I genuinely don't believe that rolling out small fixes here and there will hit the same way as much larger updates.
Its whole purpose is to boot Clementine into a state that I had originally intended 10 months ago, and as it should have been today. At least, as close as I can get it to the state I intended anyway. Keeping in mind that there are now changes I can’t even begin to combat anymore.
Clementine is approaching its 1 year anniversary, and in all seriousness, if I’m not enjoying Clementine myself, if I’m not happy with what I have to work on, then what’s the point of me being here? There are a million other things that I could be doing. I stay, because I want Clementine to be better, but I find it crazy that after almost a year, it feels like we've gone nowhere.
Anyway, this post should outline the general idea anyway, so. Let’s dive in, I guess.
Whether it’s Solo or Party, PSU is super sluggish. I mean really, there’s a lot to improve on here and make the game feel nicer. While I’m always on the fence about change, remember:
Adding and improving is fine, removal is often not.
Starting a new character is really awful. Even with the additional experience boost that new characters get, it is bland and not at all interesting. Hell it isn’t even rewarding. It’s bad for a lot of reasons, and they’re all different problems that… I mean yeah, they can be solved, but fear, opposing opinion and nostalgia are fierce traps right now.
Experience and Progression
Experience requirements and MP requirements were something that got heavily stomped on at launch, and while I did move to get that resolved as best I could, it still sucks. It sucked then and it sucks now. Even with the additional experience new players get, it isn’t enough to make the early game feel even remotely fun. Getting into the game is arguably the hardest part, and it’s like a test. It isn’t inviting at all, and it’s incredibly backwards in some regards.
With the changes suggested below, playing and getting into PSU has honestly become a much more pleasant experience. I actually had fun, can you believe it?
The Level Cap will go to 180, or Level Cap updates will drop as full difficulty tiers.
Because all of the content is there and it doesn't need to be dripped out quite so sparingly.
This is also healthier in terms of Maintenance. Once in a while is fine, once a week was killing me.
The Experience boost for new characters would be raised between 100-200%.
I don’t particularly think that there’s any major issue with the level progression speed, except very early on. Maybe after level 50-80, the speed we have isn’t awful, but starting a new character shouldn’t be more challenging than starting a successful YouTube channel.
This would most likely have an upper limit where the boost ends, instead of it being Max Level minus 15. Possibly 80? I don't want people to be carried to cap, but I do want the early game to be smooth.
Also, before you panic and scream like most people do when they see numbers, it’s actually not as bad as you might think. Having run the early game a considerable amount of times, even 300% is still abysmally slow, and it still takes multiple hours to hit level 30. It will take many many more to hit 100.
B rank Enemies would reward more Experience than C Rank.
One of the issues right now going from C to B is that the reward in experience is too diminished to be worth the hassle. You actually level faster fighting C rank enemies initially.
Alternatively, C rank enemies just won’t give so much experience, and the curve can pick up the slack.
Removal of the enemy tagging requirement for experience, with the intention of improving party play.
Because it’s not 2006 anymore, no matter how much you wish it was.
The MP Requirement for base types would be significantly reduced.
Alternatively, they won’t be required at all for changing to an Expert Type, or you would just start as an Expert Type, unless it can be made enjoyable otherwise.
Increased MP Payout by 50%.
Because by the time you get to B rank, you might as well be level 1 again.
Admittedly depends on the whole Basic Type changes, since switching is the main issue here.
To escape the slug, we must confront the slug
Dying would no longer lower the mission's clear ranking.
Because having to restart the entire mission just to get your rewards… funny.
Missing enemies and other conditions would still hurt your clear ranking.
Admittedly I was never big on the idea of making death completely fucking pointless in PSU, but for the player experience, I can understand.
Limit Break hitboxes would be enabled by default without the requirement of Type Level.
The alternative is to remove MST from bosses in C and B rank difficulties.
This one is important because it massively improves boss fighting for Force players, especially in Solo.
Equipment Title Rewards for reaching a certain level milestone.
These would reward the player with basic equipment to help bridge the gap between equipment and level until the player is ready to go and hunt for actual loot.
The down side to this is that it may harm the early game market, but if Meseta is coming in from other sources for new players then it might not be a major issue.
Adjusting the enemy HP party modifier nonsense.
This is one of the many things that I face resistance with, but it violates the entire game as a whole the second someone joins or leaves the party. It completely changes the way the game feels, as well as your muscle memory. It just doesn’t feel good at all.
The Enemy HP most likely would be reduced to 75% for solo play, and 100% for 2 to 6 member play.
Increased Velocity of attacks.
This one is actually already out for you, but specifically, straight shooting bullets and line techs. There’s no real downside to having your Bullet or Technic travel faster. It just feels nice.
Junk all of the clothing exchanges and just put the clothing in the clothing shop.
Still don’t understand this one. These exchange missions are never going to work correctly. I know it’s meant to be like… working toward something? But the fact that there’s an entire system there to let you try before you buy, and we’re not using it... please.
Area chat can be area-wide.
Not to be confused with global chat. This essentially means if you’re on the 4th Floor then everyone else on the 4th Floor can talk to each other without having to huddle up.
Increase the probability of rare missions.
The probability of rare missions is something that was mostly unknown, but the current system isn’t particularly bad, it could just use some adjustments.
The down side to this of course is that 1 = 6, but only sometimes.
Increase the probability of rare enemies.
Rare enemies are something we do have some information on. On most AOTI and EOL missions, the rare enemy chance was 10%, opposed to the 1% it was on Vanilla. Judging by how pointless rare enemies are, there’s no real reason it can’t just be 10%, or higher if we keep the abandonment check.
Another mild attempt at Partner NPC's
I hate them, but y'know. If I can get them working at least for solo then it would be helpful, no doubt.
Restricted Lobby access really isn’t helping anything
Obviously PSU is a game that was designed around the whole idea that there would be crowds of people, hence the excessively fragmented lobby system that fucks us all over. There are multiple solutions to this problem, but for reasons I’ll never understand, none of them seem acceptable.
I get that exploring and unlocking lobbies is like, yeeeeah cool, I’m “making progress”, but that whole mechanic becomes completely pointless once you either unlock them all, or introduce taxiing. At best it makes it more difficult for new players to get to the lobbies that people are in. If people want to explore, just let them explore via the flight NPC. If they want to explore missions, it literally couldn’t help them more by letting them get to those missions.
However, this is another of the many things that I face resistance with. Of course we can argue that it forces people to “explore” or “talk to people” for a taxi, but I sincerely doubt anyone getting a taxi is going to make a new friend any faster than just getting to the lobby with people in. Having them be unlocked doesn't harm anything. At the very very least, have all of the City areas unlocked by default.
My prices are too strong for you, traveler.
Well you know how this one goes. It’s particularly bad as a new player to actually get equipped. The fact that you get the lowest tier of items from enemies starting out, y’know, junk that you actually start with, it’s not helping.
Picture it: I’m level 15. I have the saber I started with, a pistol with no PP ‘cause my bullet levelled at the speed of light and my weapon can’t keep up, a wand I can’t use but forgot to sell, and the game’s gonna be like “Hey rookie, go tell that dragon why it can’t be playin in this field no more. I’ll give you a photon if you do.”
Supplementary Drops! Ta-da~
Because of the pain myself and many others have experienced, we’ve experimented with a new drop system that we ended up calling “Supplementary Drops”. Originally made to be “Planet Drops”, Supplementary Drops are part of the Enemy Drops category, and they have one purpose and one purpose alone: To equip you early on, and to help you fly. Not literally.
It doesn’t matter what mission you do or what enemy you fight, they’re global, and it provides items that you can commonly find in NPC stores around that level. Weapons, Shields, and Units. At best you will find items that you can use and that will give you small boosts in equipment and performance from time to time. At worst it gives you Meseta so you can actually buy things you want, instead of trying to explain to the NPC why you can’t even afford a Meseta Card, let alone the overpriced weapon.
That’s about it. Actual drops are still something to address.
Fix the item prices
Simple enough. At least on paper LOOOOL.
Most prices are done by a formula, so adjusting individual items is more difficult than it needed to be, but whatever. I’d like to see the NPC item shop prices come down a touch.
We can see how Meseta income fares after some time spent with Supplementary Drops. If it’s still too difficult to buy basic equipment then we’ll make more moves.
Relaxing the mission level requirement
I’m really on the fence about this one because it stomps right into the removal category, but with the intention of improving. While this is a mechanic that exists in other Phantasy Stars as well, one could argue that it’s a bigger issue for PSU because:
There isn’t a centralized lobby, meaning you don’t get to see many people even if you can’t play with them. Unless you want to count “go to a hotspot that’s locked by default” as “seeing people”.
You can’t catch up quite as quickly, and starting again isn’t exactly welcoming for older players, either.
Going back to the experience boost for new characters, I know people will likely panic at this one as well. Screw power levelling! Except, again, it’s not as bad as you may think. The only situation that this is bad in is rare missions, which can be addressed. Even starting out at level 1 and having someone bring me into an S or S2 mission, I still level up slow enough that it’s not even concerning.
A big problem with playing PSU in general is that it’s very difficult to actually play with people when you start out. You have to play an entire game of catch up before you can begin to play with anyone, and all the while people are moving away from you as they also level. Not to mention that half of the missions are simply boring to solo, and they’re not even rewarding.
Remember when games had beginner training areas and you couldn’t wait to get out of it, but it just dragged on and on? That’s what starting fresh on Clementine is like right now. Work your ass off and prove that you want to play, before you can begin to play the game. Fun.
Granted, this isn’t a major issue if you have low level friends to play with, but at the same time, it doesn’t exactly encourage anyone to invite their friends in either. In order to help them out you essentially have to start again, or slog through mundane C rank missions that don’t benefit you at all while experience gets dripped onto your friend. If you could bring them into your mission and help them to actually get caught up, and not just to level 10, it would be a lot more welcoming.
Hours of play at best boosts me up to A rank tops, and even that’s a stretch. Quite rapidly I get to a point where levels start coming in slowly and I have to start pulling my weight, which I can do because all of the junk that dropped gave me just enough to buy some gear from the player market and go flat broke. The point is that I get to play.
Not to mention that it also provides a fun challenge. It was actually fun going into a mission that was above me and actually being able to do it. Sure I cheesed it and it took a while to kill enemies, but it actually felt good. It was fun, and it didn’t rocket me into level 100 in 5 minutes.
There are downsides to this though, of course.
I can see it becoming quite annoying for players having random low levels join their mission. Obviously you can kick them, but it’s going to be annoying for both sides.
To remedy this problem, I would probably lean heavily on the idea that low level players can only join high difficulty missions if they are explicitly invited by the party leader beforehand. This way, you can invite your friends in and help them get situated without the worry of keeping unwanted company out of your party.
There may be runaway situations with EXP and MP, especially with Rare Missions.
To remedy this one, we could implement some kind of EXP and MP limiting on extremely low level characters in high ranking missions. It would still be faster than dragging them through C and B, but it won’t get them to Level 50 in 10 minutes, kind of deal.
Alternatively we can just not allow low levels into rare missions unless they pass the entry requirement.
A funny mechanic called Attack Accuracy
You missed. I don’t care that the attack landed and made an audible smack. You missed, because a funny number generator said you missed. It makes me laugh every time with its funny 0's.
Also I'm lying. Hitting 0 is bullshit, in my humble opinion. Yeah I know that the enemy is supposed to guard against the attack, but even if they did it’s still lame. The idea that you can put a bullet in an enemy and it just bounces off them like they’re Captain Scarlet is nutty.
The worry was that we didn’t want to make accuracy useless by removing the whole “hitting 0” thing, so something that we ended up toying with was to incorporate the idea of attack accuracy into the damage variation. In effect, you wouldn’t “miss” unless you legitimately missed, because we all know you can’t aim. Instead you just hit more accurate numbers. If you have 100% accuracy, then the only variance in damage comes from your weapon. This only really affects you if you have bad accuracy, like 50% or less, because you have the potential to do 50% less damage as opposed to no damage.
Note* This only really applies to Player->Enemy interactions. You can still dodge enemies.
It makes combat feel nicer, I promise.
Very helpful NPCs that hold nothing but the knowledge
Normally I would be fine with the idea of a tutorial mission, or even the old one that doesn’t work because of NPC's and missing data, ahaha. I hate the idea of forced hand holding or anything that takes control away for too long. The PSU tutorial was really annoying and you couldn’t get out of it because the NPC wouldn’t shut up for 5 minutes.
What I’d like instead, is to just have NPC’s around the cities and whatever. Just regular roaming NPCs that you can talk to, if you want.
We can have:
2nd floor friend tell you about some of the shops around.
Person outside of grinding tell you about grinding.
4th floor friend tell you about the counters and planets.
And pretty much anything else you can think of that might help guide unfamiliar players.
Something that does need to be addressed eventually is the lack of any real Meseta sink, and I can only really come up with a handful of solutions, considering what is actually possible.
Have a community Donations NPC where everyone can work toward a goal.
Once a predetermined sum of Meseta has been reached, there can be server-wide rewards for all players.
EXP+, MP+, Meseta+, PA+, Rare Mission+, etc.
Have a way to convert Meseta to GC in some way, and potentially find a way to add back the GC Shop
We could sell useful equipment that isn't BiS, but good enough to help players that may be struggling due to bad luck.
Guardians Quest System
I mean, this one is fairly straightforward. I know that they got cut down significantly already, but I still think I’d like to see them become based around the idea that you just get rewarded for playing. At least Daily Quests.
If it’s a daily chore, then I think it should stay within the bounds of, say, Clear 5 missions, Break 50 Boxes, Kill 100 Enemies. Just simple shit that you do without having to go out of your way to accomplish.
Weekly quests, I don’t particularly have a big issue with them being something specific. Go and kill De Ragan, Go and kill whatever enemy. But I also think that Weekly quests should steer clear of being a chore. I’d mentioned this in another post a while back, but Weekly quests shouldn’t be a week long chore, it should be something you finish and then you get the rest of the week off.
Like cleaning your house, you don’t do it all day every day, you just do it once or twice a week and then it’s done and you feel good.
Guardians Cash might actually become a reality after all, y’know? Only it would be free, of course. The inclusion of Guardians services is a major milestone for Clementine because it incorporates a lot of added progression as well as solutions to problems we have.
Of course we still need to come to some general agreement on how to obtain things like AP and GC, but at the very least I know it will be free and obtainable through playing.
Guardians Advanced Style
Where do I even start with this one? The GAS system is utter garbage and it’s so obviously outsourced. It doesn’t follow AAAANY of the rules set by the rest of the game. Getting it to work this far has been the most stress I’ve gotten from Clementine in a while, and in general it just scares me with the amount of conditional shit going on. Of course it isn’t finished yet, but as it currently stands I can level up abilities, remove abilities, and all of the Basic and Special abilities are working. The weapon abilities and attribute abilities aren’t in yet, nor are styles, and I need to implement saving and loading.
The plan is to have it working and implemented properly of course, at least to a reasonable extent. Obviously if I can’t tell the client certain things then we’ll have the usual hodgepodge and workarounds, or it just won't exist.
I do foresee changes though, and I’m not totally sure how I feel about it right now. Whether it’s the group opinion that some abilities are “too strong”, or the condensing of abilities into one package, I would prefer to keep things as close to the original intended system as possible.
As it stands, the current abilities I’m to implement are as follows:
Limits (Basic, special, weapon, attribute):
Basic abilities (max level in parentheses):
Maximum HP+ (5)
Special Abilities (max level in parentheses):
Full Custom Power (2)
Exact Attack Damage+ (2)
Exact Counter Damage+ (2)
Attack Range+ (2)
Support Range+ (2)
Critical Rate (2)
Critical Mastery (2)
First Strike (2)
Old Fashioned (1)
Weapon skills (max level in parentheses):
Two Handed Mastery (10)
One Handed Mastery (10)
[WEAPON] PA Level + (5)
[WEAPON] Damage + (5)
[WEAPON] Element+ (5)
[WEAPON] Critical+ (5)
[WEAPON] Extra+ (1)
[WEAPON] PA Master (3)
[WEAPON] Bullet Master (3)
Attributes / resistance (max level in parentheses):
LB Line TECHNICs (3)
LB Single TECHNICs (3)
LB Ra TECHNICs (3)
LB Gi TECHNICs (3)
LB Dam TECHNICs (3)
LB Nos TECHNICs (3)
[ELEMENT] TECHNIC Level+ (5)
[ELEMENT] TECHNIC Master (3)
[STATUS] Resist+ (3)
[STATUS] Rate+ (3)
[STATUS] Power+ (3)
Weapon Style (only 1):
[ELEMENT] Burst (3)
Enhanced C Weapon (2)
Enhanced B Weapon (2)
Enhanced A Weapon (2)
Status Crusher (2)
Lucky Striker (2)
Finishing Blow (2)
Power Drain (1)
Giant Slayer (3)
Hybrid Warrior (2)
Revenge Blaster (2)
Shield Style (only 1):
Reduce [ELEMENT] (3)
Rapid Action (2)
Ragan’s Breath (3)
Multiple Parry (2)
Berserk Stance (1)
Aegis Sword (1)
Aegis Guard (1)
Extra Style (only 1):
Competent Trapper (2)
Competent Pharmacist (2)
Double Time (1)
Wild Blast (1)
SUV Lover (1)
Trusty Partner (2)
Vampire Strike (1)
Did I mention that I hate b u l l e t p o i n t s?
The Upgrade Device
I haven’t started on this one yet, but Jakoo has done enough research into it that it should be possible to recover this one alongside GAS. For anyone unfamiliar, The Upgrade Device is another service that is used to manage and maintain your weapons in exchange for GC.
This service included:
Increasing Current Grind (Max 8)
Repairing Maximum Grind (Could potentially be reworked into a "Prototype weapon" feature. I.E turn your weapon into one)
Increasing Element Percent (Max 40, perhaps)
In general I doubt there’s much freedom with this one. It doesn’t seem possible to add or disable any of the features, which means we generally have to work with it. Since it changes the way weapons are managed, we may end up having to address some things.
Low element percent drops don’t really warrant being trashed anymore, broken weapons can be repaired, and getting the wrong element is no longer a big deal. Admittedly this does worry me. Not because it’ll become “too easy”, but because I’m afraid drop rates will get the machete even more, based on the idea that you only need to get the item a handful of times at best.
For more information on The Upgrade Device, please see: http://re-psupedia.info/The_Upgrade_Device
Weapon Potential. Grinding and Prototypes!
Aaaahahaaa hahaaaaaa. Fucks sake. Well, I’m not going to be making any decisions right now, but obviously with the inclusion of The Upgrade Device, we’re going to be opening some doors.
Grinding is a hot topic, without a doubt it’s something people can’t seem to ever agree on. Like obviously, yeah, there are people that want it to be left alone, and there are people that want the breaking to be removed (free repairs, if you will). Either way, someone’s getting a little too salty at grinding, and I don’t believe it’s a system that’s ever meant to induce such an unpleasant mood.
I can understand why people put a lot of worth into grinding, and I can understand how others don’t. I can understand why someone might not want to waste time with it, either. If I’m being honest, I fear that the ideas of Grinding weapons in PSU are stuck inside of a box, like Grinding can only ever be one thing or the other. Either it breaks, or it doesn’t.
Sure, with The Upgrade Device you can repair it, but it’s just an extra step between Grinding and Getting a 10/10. Sometimes people come up with ideas to try and improve Grinding, and a lot of the time they’re not very workable ideas. Mostly because, well, this is PSU, and PSU isn’t a flexible game; It’s difficult for people to know what is and isn’t possible.
Take the Prototype System for example. The only workable property was the incredibly limited item name, which is why Prototypes were named the way that they were. The Prototype system is something people seemed to enjoy, but there also ended up being a lot of confusion around them. The name isn’t easy to grasp, a lot of people get confused by them when they drop, and they don’t show up easily on the player market.
But Marmalade, why don’t you just use the description window to show the attribute?
Well, I can’t. Because of how the client handles item descriptions, it would be applied to all versions of that item regardless of whether it’s a Prototype, different Prototypes, or just basic.
I know, I know, DA is bae, but I didn’t particularly plan on there being any variety either. The concept behind Prototypes was to simply make them all the same. Your weapon was either a Prototype, or it wasn’t. There was no DA, NV, AMP, EE, or whatever--it was just a status weapon to add rarity to items that were supposed to become a little more common.
My biggest worry with Clementine and obtaining equipment is that we’re very slowly creeping towards the loss of rarity. Rarity is a Sin. 50+ runs is a Sin. Bad RNG is a Sin. Some items are allowed to be rare, and sometimes you can’t have the latest and greatest. Some items need to be rare, some items need to be hard to get. Prototypes were meant to be the rarity to the progressively common rare items.
Here’s a really nutty idea for Grinding and Prototypes.
When it comes to actual weapon rarity and signature, there’s honestly a lot more that can come about than the basic 10/10 and some random ability.
Let’s say that Prototypes got cut back to what they were initially supposed to be--one thing. The naming convention and the 15 star rarity would be dumped, making the weapon easily identifiable. Instead of it being a minor boost to stats, it simply has the potential to 15/15 instead of 10/10. This also makes it identifiable on the market, because it’s information that you can actually see on the weapon stat window. I can also add in a filter similar to element, so you could search "Agito Repca Prototype", or "Agito Repca Proto", etc.
Ok, so our Prototypes go to 15 instead of 10.
Now let’s say alongside regular-ass Grinders we have the addition of Attribute Grinders. These are Grinders that could be ATP+, TP+, SE+, CHR+, and so on and so forth. Grinders like this would be uncommon and you would use them on 11-15 specifically. Their chances of success could be 100%, or they wouldn't break your weapon on failure. You would use them sparingly of course, but they would add an additional stat bonus and let you filter it on the player market.
This opens up a few doors. Obviously this lets you customize your weapon(s) to what suits your needs and play style, instead of depending on the RNG of, say, a DA Prototype roll. But it also adds a layer of progression, it gives you control, and it adds rarity of varying degrees. It adds choice.
It’s worth noting though that even though prototypes go to 15, the generic grinder bonus would have to stop at 10, because there are no stats beyond 10. We would either have to fluff something in, or it would be strictly for Attribute Grinders (regular Grinders would be a waste on 11-15). The bonus gained from Attribute Grinders would also be fairly small. Enough to make the weapon feel nice, but not enough that the gap between 10/10 and 15/15 is a problem
The boundaries of this are limited for sure, but there’s a lot we can toy around with. You can easily have ATP+5, ATP+20, ATP+30. You could have grinders for PP recovery speed, attack range, even Status Effects. It’s literally GAS for your weapon, on your weapon, as opposed to your character.
So, instead of this:
You have this:
Agito Repca 0/15
Alternatively if there's space in the item name then we can probably prepend a ★ symbol to the item name, like ★Agito Repca. The down side to this is that we have to disable Prototyping for items whose names are too long, or we need to manually shorten those names.
But Marmalade, what about our existing Prototype weapons?
Yeah, well, that's a tricky one. They would most likely get converted to 15 max, with the applicable stat bonus added on top in the form of grinds. If you had an Element Enhanced, then your weapon would turn into 5/15, with 5x Grinder ELE+1's attached. Alternatively they all just become 10/15.
Thanks for listening to my crazy idea.
Regardless of what actually ends up happening with Prototypes and the sort, it would be best to at least incorporate the weapon repairs via The Upgrade Device, whether it's to repair weapons, or in theory to prototype them. However, the main concern here is the time-to-reward ratio with Grinding. What I want to avoid is having players break their weapons going to 9 or 10, run to The Upgrade Device, repair it, run all the way back, and then break it again. That's not going to be any better than what we have now.
There are a few ways that I could really think about doing this, but I want to say the best approach is this...
Failing a grind could lose your current grind by some value, but not the entirety of it. Which is to say, if you fail a grind, you may lose 1~3 current grind, and a very small chance to lose 1 max grind potential. I would say that it should be okay to fail a grind and not necessarily always lose max grind potential. The idea here being that grinding overall becomes easier, but there's enough of an edge to keep the GC sink from time to time.
On top of a system like that we can have weapons drop with less than 10 max grind potential, but no less than 8, which gives The Upgrade Device some use without putting it all on the idea of Grinding. It also means we can bolster drops for items and increase drop rates, because if an item has a chance to drop at 0/8 and has a chance to drop as 20~30%, then there's no reason for them to be quite as rare as they are. This is explained more in the Drops section below. Please read it, if you're interested, but the trade-off means that these weapons would drop a little more often, turning your time and attention toward efforts to repair it via The Upgrade Device, rather than pure RNG hunting, unless you want the 0/15 Prototype.
This would at least make your efforts guaranteed, since you’ll most likely get AP and GC through a measurable effort, like the time you already put into the mission hunting the item. Essentially, it pays for itself. You could at least calculate how much work it’s going to be to get your weapon to where you want it to be otherwise, and figure out if it’s worth it. Add on top the idea of Attribute Grinders, and there's a lot to work towards with your weapon without leaning on RNG too much.
The added bonus is that for people who genuinely don’t give a shit about having the latest and greatest, they would most likely settle for a 0/5 and be more happy with the look of the weapon rather than its performance.
One thing I think I’m certain of though is that if players are going to spend a ridiculous amount of time doing anything to progress, I would rather they didn't spend it talking to the Grinder NPC. I'd Much rather be on the field hunting and playing, than snoozing my way through the slowest NPC in the world 500 times in a row.
Grinding has a low chance to reduce Max Grind potential to a limit of 0/8, to keep The Upgrade Device mildly Relevant.
Grinding has a reasonable chance to reduce Current Grind by 1~3.
Adding Fun and Challenge
BUT MARMALADE, where’s challenge mode? Y’all said it was coming and then it never did kekw
Challenge mode is something I still want to do, and I still have the plans and the intention to do it. The problems I have right now are this:
Firstly, there’s a lot of mission stuff that still needs to be figured out. I would enjoy having a fair few puzzles in Challenge mode, but in order to make any fun puzzles we need to figure out as much with missions and customizing them as possible. IC was a big step toward doing custom missions, since it was the first custom scripted thing we did, but there still needs to be more.
Secondly, I wanted there to be an isolated lobby for Challenge Mode, but the problem I face is that because it’s a custom map, there’s no way to enable PP Cubes or Universe Cubes, which means leaving the lobby is very difficult. The best approach that I could come up with was to have an NPC that forces an area change, which would force a universe change. The problem with forcing universe changes is that we kind of assume that the server is fit to take your request and move you.
As for a general challenge, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that sponge-ass enemies aren’t exactly challenging so much as they are frustrating. A fun challenge usually revolves around things like timed events, easter egg hunting, or puzzles to get the mind working. I know there are a lot of people that will scoff and go “lmao TA boring”, but y’know, to each their own.
Anything that generally takes control away from the player isn’t and shouldn’t be considered “challenging”. Anything that depends on RNG isn’t necessarily challenging either. Overly punishing a player for failing a challenge is also a sure way to make that challenge not at all fun.
I think what could be fun for the future is some long raid shadow legends style missions, with the main difficulty focused on the boss or mini boss instead of the whole mission. This isn't to say that all missions will be like this, they would be a planned group activity amongst players seeking higher rewards. We could also have some missions that revolves around keeping enemies away from something, like a poor man's tower defense. These aren't regular missions, but something to go to when you want challenging content.
There are a fair few missions in Clementine that need to be looked at, mostly because half of them are pieced together from various difficulties and game versions. A lot of Vanilla missions need to be addressed, and some JP missions need to be looked at.
It would be nice to have some more variety in missions and rare missions. Maybe some that utilize uncommon areas, or ones that explore the unused parts of the PSO areas. Additionally, some different rare missions overall would be nice, and missions that make use of basic boobytraps and puzzles (I.E, 2 switches, 1 is trapped).
Having a mission that sits along side Unsafe Passage that is more geared toward teaching players basic mechanics via message terminals would be nice. Things like switches, gates, keys, teleporters, and dark rooms, etc. It would eventually loop back to the G.Colony instead of dumping you in a dead end lobby.
Extended missions are missions designed around some form of gimmick, puzzle, or attitude. They would use uncommon areas, event areas, or just plain cool areas. Their purpose is to give players an alternative to hunting certain drops where they might otherwise be boring or unpleasant to hunt.
Bad “Timed Quest” smells
To clarify: This isn't a timed quest system like Emergency Quests, I ended up wording this poorly.
I know most people hate the idea of having missions available through a timed window, as much as it would help us with the whole gathering people into one spot concern. Not all that far off from the idea of Mission Spotlight, it may be an idea to have spot lit missions based around Contamination in PSU, where players can group up to do runs and get actual rewards. Something to break away from the boring grind of hunting, anyway.
The idea behind spotlit missions is that they would rotate daily, either on the 4th floor, or around various lobbies in the game. With something like this we can reward players with various guaranteed rewards, like GC, AP, Boost Items, or even Item Tickets to exchange for goodies.
It would be available all day, but with limited rewards after so many runs to prevent abuse. This lets you group with your friends to help them without locking you out because you already did it.
Automated Seasonal Event Missions
Because figuring out seasonal enemies never happened, we would like to make seasonal missions that automatically enable and disable depending on the active season. If the Valentine season was active, then there would be a mission available based around Valentines Day and Rappy Amure. The same for Easter, Halloween, etc.
This wouldn’t interfere with actual events either. We can have bigger events during these seasonal events, and it wouldn’t hurt much. It’s just something else to do if you’re bored.
You may already know how I feel about this, assuming you read everything up until this point. Otherwise not a lot of this is going to make sense. Besides the usual “lol drop rates bad” complaints, I think there are other issues that desperately need to be addressed before the rates get tampered with.
However, combining all of the time, work, effort and research I’ve put into improving the overall drop system, I can now safely say that I’ve done everything I can do to ensure that drops have the best possible potential to be good. Now it's really just a matter of how things get distributed, which leads me into...
My concerns with loot
My initial concern with loot is fairly simple. We can not have an individualistic drop system and still treat loot as if the party, and in turn the entire community, is one collective. Yes the loot may get rolled 6 times, and yes the runs might go faster with more people, but that’s the point, isn’t it? A 6-player party doesn’t mean that players get 6 dice. All that being in a party means is that players get to roll their dice just a little more frequently, but I worry that this gets lost somewhere along the way.
There should be very little discrepancy between one player running a mission alone, and 60 individuals running the mission alone. This is why solo hunting stinks, and hunting in general is just unpleasant. People don’t complain just because. Ok, maybe some times, admittedly people would still complain even if the rates were the same as official, but the point is they complain because there’s an issue that keeps going ignored or unresearched.
We can’t keep gearing items toward the idea that they will “come into circulation” either, like any one player in the community getting it will provide instant gratification for the rest of the player base. Like excess items collected will automatically work their way down into the poor man's pocket.
Not only would people rather just find their item instead of buying it, but circulation just doesn’t exist, I don’t believe that it does. Even if it did, there isn't usually a good supply of Meseta to afford a lot of these things without taking a major hit. If you want to have loot be based around the idea that people always share what they find, whether they need it or not, then circulation needs to be cultivated. To cultivate it, you need to feed it. To feed it, you need to source loot. If you don’t source loot, then you don’t feed it, and it doesn’t circulate.
But how do you source loot without ruining the market? Well, depending on what we define "ruining the market" as, it's pretty straight forward. Dilute every rare hot spot that exists with other items people want. If a mission has 1 item I do want, and 2 items others want, then chances are I'm going to find something to sell on the market that other people want.
Exhausting the idea of “Rare”
Don’t get me wrong, there should be rare items in PSU, that’s not a problem. There are allowed to be ridiculously rare items eventually, near the end game. But right now we’re at fake wish.com end game and it’s burning people out before they even get to the part where rare items are meant to exist.
I've already somewhat touched on this, but there's consistently nothing between run 1 and run 500. Seemingly a lot of why players are fed up with hunting items is because of this, and it's a problem that a lot of games have remedied in recent years. I get that these items are strong and there are a lot of items that need to be rare, that's not a problem. Rare items can still be rare, but the idea of a rare item hurts a lot when there's next to nothing along the way.
If we're to measure the best scenario, how would we? 50% all elements? The absolute very best it's ever going to be for the item. If it takes 300-500 runs to get 1 of these 6 elements, and it's 32% then... ok. Now the metric is set, it's going to take me another 300-500 runs probably, for a shot at another potentially worse item, or a duplicate of what I have. I can sell it, but I'll probably price it ridiculously high that no one can buy it, because it took a large chunk of my time, and time is valuable.
Unintentionally, we've ended up burning people out on this idea of “rare items” so much that when it comes time to put in actual rare items, players are already finished and done with the idea. Of course there’s no real choice, those rare items still need to be rare, so the only real solution is to make rare hunting fun and worthwhile by addressing the nothingness in-between.
Which leads me to...
Closing the gap between The Best and The Worst
The lack of depth is hurting drops right now. I mean, the miniscule content updates aren’t helping, but there’s no actual depth to the item or what to hunt. If people argue that grind breaking adds value to a weapon, then low elemental percent floor and the theorized lower/higher max grind bridges the gap between the best and the worst. You can have the weapon, and then you can have the best version of that weapon, which was essentially what prototypes were meant to be but aren’t.
TL;DR: When you have all the items pushed up against one side, I.E 40-50% element, then the rates get nutty because it's "too good". Allow more 20-30%'s to drop in exchange for raising the drop rates, which means more loot and less nothing. These items can be repaired through guaranteed input through The Upgrade Device.
Essentially it's this:
Common: 499 Runs, Nothing at all
Rare: 500 Runs, 1x 40~50% Maybe
Common: 200 Runs, 20% 0/5
Uncommon: 300 Runs, 30% 0/8
Rare: 500 Runs, 50% 0/10
All the while, you're gaining GC for running the mission, which you can optionally use to repair the weapon or change it to your needs.
You see, if you have a chance to drop a totally bunk item, like 20% fire because we’re daring like that, then by all means you can increase the drop rate a little. Most people will settle, plenty of people will be happy with 20% just to get by, and if they’re not then they can get a Meseta return on it. Then, since naturally you still have the chance to get a 50% and we know it won't take 800 runs, the people that actually want to work for the best version of that item can do so at their own leisure. But when everything is rated toward the idea that it's always going to be the best and you only need to do it once, it ends up sucking the life out of the hunt, and in turn the journey to get the item. If it's not realistic to do this for a certain item then there needs to be something else that drops along side those SR's.
So because there’s no real depth to any item, I can also see us gradually creeping up the element floor so 45+% or bust, because the items are so hard to get that people get frustrated when their long hunt paid off with a low-to-mid version of that item. I don't want us to be afraid of low element percent. Let it exist and let it add depth to the item so we can pad out loot. I’d rather get the low-to-mid versions of the item more often along the way, than almost never. At least then I know it’s dropping, and it’s just a matter of finding one I’m happy with. If I get a bad pull, then at least I know that I’ll get another chance in a reasonable amount of runs. Hell, I would even go as far as having at least 1 guaranteed red drop at the end of a mission, even if it’s potentially doodoo. At least I know I’m guaranteed something for my time running the mission.
I’ve said this more times than I can even count anymore, but please take Pokémon Booster packs for example. Every time you open one you’re guaranteed a rare or shiny. You at least know that you’ll get something, even if it’s shit. Such is the illusion of reward, and it's why people keep trying.
Every time I see the item I want, it’s exciting. It’s a dopamine hit. Is it good? Is it the element I want? How about the percent? I don’t know. Picking it up and finding out is exciting. Well, if it isn’t what I want then I at least know I can try again. At least I know I have another shot at it.
Obviously this doesn’t apply so well to weapons, since The Upgrade Device just solves the problem of bad striking weapons. But for weapons we can do something else like needing to be repaired, and for shields we can have the element floor, or a combination.
We need to bolster the journey. We need to add something to the journey between starting the hunt, and the eventual climax. The easiest way I can think of is to just have more variation to the item and let it drop a little more. This isn't to say that we need to make rare items flood in, but increasing their chance and lowering the chance of a 45-50% might be more ideal. At least you get rewards this way.
BUT IF YOU RAISE THE RATES, THE "MARKET" WILL...?!
Dealing with Item Flooding
I suppose one of the biggest fears for loot is that too many items come into the game, so the market price tanks and yada yada, but I don't think you need to worry about this so much. Sure, this one is difficult because there aren't many item sinks in the game. There are NPC's to sell to, Synthesis ingredients, Exchange Missions, and the Offering Box.
The problem with Synthesis and Exchanges is that they're majorly limited, and it doesn't cover most items effectively. The Offering Box is also so far out of the way that it's just tedious, and it doesn't really give anything exciting.
However, the plus side to the Offering Box is that it has the UI to deal with the majority of the items in PSU, so it has potential. The idea, in theory at least, is that we can duplicate it and move it to an NPC or something on the Colony. Assuming we go with this idea that items become a little more common, but can drop with lesser element percent, or in general are just worthless to you.
Here you would be able to feed in your garbage items and have a reasonable chance at a return on useful items, such as tickets or whatever would be the item equivalent of PA Fragments. Then you can at least convert your trash items, and in turn your efforts, into a somewhat guaranteed currency that you can spend on items you actually do want. Whether it's boards for desired items, boost tickets, or something like GC.
The alternative is to have a shop NPC that you sell to that converts items sold into some other kind of currency along side the Meseta gain. The only down side is that it probably can't add anything to your inventory, so it would have to be rewards like GC or AP. There's also the natural sink of players that just never play or return, which is inevitable. This applies to Meseta and Items. So consider that at least 50% of all incoming Items get removed at some point in time, either through selling, offering, or just being locked behind inactivity.
A quick note on Synthesis. In general I think it would be reasonable that if we’re going to have boards for items then they should also be able to drop as whole items, even if the chance is lesser. If we’re worried that it would invalidate Synthesis as a whole, then we can work to make it rewarding and worthwhile. At the same time, there are a lot of players that really don’t enjoy crafting, so making it a requirement for some things isn’t all that fun.
I know that most of the boards are 100% regardless of the bot level, but still. Some of us just want to kill enemies and farm the item instead of piecing it together.
Also can we remove Photon, El-Photon, and Im-Photon from drops? Just put them in an NPC shop. I want to die every time I run S2, break 8 boxes, and get 3-4 regular-ass Photons without fail.
At the end of the day this is only a game, and It’s a game that happened already. There are plenty of healthier ways to revitalize it, so there’s no need to hold such a tight grip on PSU and its content. Just let it be. I know some of what I touched on was a bit wacky, but these are things that I want to work on or consider. I want to think that most of what I spoke about is in everyone's best interest, but if it isn’t then… huh, I guess I really am lost.
Of course I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you do end up reading all of this, I would somewhat urge you to give the parts you cares about a re-read when it’s convenient, just so you can be sure that you got everything. There’s a lot to take in here, and I’m sure there will be a lot of questions, a lot of “This is dumb”, and a lot of confusion. I don’t want to cause a stir between people, and I don’t want people to start pointing fingers or calling names like usual.
A lot of you will probably wonder when something like this could happen, and how long. The short answer is that I don't really know, but most likely this year for most of it. The way I envision all of this would roll out is as so:
The First update is the early game character progression, so new players don't immediately die on entry. Possible.
Next up would probably be drops with the level cap bump, either 180 or whatever the next difficulty tier is at the time. Possible.
Then we would work on finishing GAS and The Upgrade Device, along with the Prototype stuff and Grinding, if people want it. Should be possible.
Well I think that might be it, or at least as much as I can be bothered now. I’m sure there are some things I missed, but if I write any more than this then I'll be 90 before I know it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and give feedback. Now’s the time, after all.
Cheers, thanks for your time, really.
Love from the Team