It is no secret that the Shroud of the Avatar team has chosen a very different path than any other project out there. From day one we wanted to change how games were developed and funded. As we move closer to something that feels like a final product we also need to move closer to something that feels closer to a final business model that is sustainable in the long run. So Friday we introduced the rough plan for the new model. I think we only gave it a paragraph or two and clearly we should have given much more detail. So our goal all along has been to make a game that has as few pay to win elements as possible. We have always said that GW2 was the closest thing to our model but honestly upon closer scrutiny we thought it actually had too much p2w for our taste. The amounts they chose were for short period of time and very large. +50% exps and +50% crafting crit chance. Instead, with our initial offerings, decided to go much longer and lower with our buffs. We felt that was both less p2w and also more friendly than having short buffs where you must constantly spend to refresh them. So the thinking behind our week long buffs was that if players just wanted one or two buffs at a time, they could probably get those through normal drops. If they wanted 3 or 4 buffs at a time then it would cost about what people would pay for a subscription to an MMO. Even with all 7 buffs on, players don’t have a significant advantage over someone who has none. Once entering into PVP combat, the buffs have zero effect on who will win, NONE. They could make your life very slightly easier outside of combat through fewer repairs and fewer trips back to sell stuff, but in combat, they do not help at all and that has always been the goal. There are a few people who keep beating the drum on the same handful of topics so I want to talk about those first, then I will dive into the bigger picture of the economy. The following clarifications should make it clear that SotA's monetization model is not P2W, but is more aimed at those capable, and inclined, to support the game, versus making every player feel like they have to pay to stay competitive. So first, the experience bonus. I looked at GW2 and other games. GW2 sells a 2 hour 50% exp boost. That felt like way too short and too much to me. We put ours at a week long timer and 10% exp boost. Why did I go with 10%? For those who didn’t know, each level is about 10.5% more XP than the previous level. So, let’s pretend you use the exp boost potion your entire time while in game while you’re adventuring with your buddy who doesn’t. You guys are always grouped, play the exact same number of hours and split every kill. When your partner dings level 40, you will still be level 40 for a few more kills. When he hits level 80, you will still be level 80 and then ding level 81 soon thereafter. So really what it boils down to is that for roughly a 4 dollars a month subscription (to buy four 1-week exp boost potions), you can get an extra level. Fair enough so far? Next up, coins for repair. So quick briefer on what this means. To make sure that crafters will have an audience, we have always planned on item durability having a max durability that slowly decreases. Eventually the item will not be worth repairing and you’ll need to buy new stuff from a crafter. We added an alternative, which is using a crown to repair a weapon can increase the max durability again as well to avoid buying new stuff. This topic was fairly heated before the crowns were introduced. Adventurers want items to last for ever and never wear out. Crafters want them to wear out far faster than they do now so they can have a more vigorous market. Neither side is happy about the crowns because they each want their own version and the crowns was really just the gas on the fire. So before I dive into the numbers and logic of the current system, let me first address what our crafting system is intended to be. First, it is not World of Warcraft’s crafting system. In world of Warcraft, crafting had almost zero meaning to the economy and in reality was just more of an incredibly long grindy quest with gear reward at the end. The only gear that could be made that was worth wearing was no drop. That is not now and never will be the intent of our crafting system. Our crafting system is where the best gear comes from, and before we’re done, the system will have enough challenges and complexities to it that the best gear will only come from the most dedicated crafters. Many will do it as their full time occupation. Gear made by crafters is one of the biggest economic drivers in our game. Part of making sure that the crafters always have an audience is making sure items are removed and need to replaced. The crowns to avoid replacing gear was a compromise to make it so players who wanted to wear really nice gear all the time could avoid having to spend massive amounts of money to replace them. I think our initial stab at this was actually off target. My expectation is we’ll change it so the number of crowns it costs to repair gear scales up over time so eventually players will go back to the crafters. Ok, so now for the math on damage. I’m introducing a new measurement system for durability called a “Bear hour.” This is the amount of damage done to a player with no durability skills or buffs and no defensive skills, in one hour by a small bear. I know it sounds silly but I need some measurement as to what it actually means because saying 100 durability really has no meaning in explaining how often something will need to be repaired. So, to drop a piece of armor from 100 current durability to 0 current and 90 max it takes 25 bear hours. The armor can then be repaired up to 90 and last 22.5 bear hours. You use it until it gets down to 20 max durability it will have delivered 135 bear hours before needing to be repaired or replaced. Now let’s figure out how that feels to a mid-core player. We’ll say the mid-core player spends 20 hours a week in game and 15 of those hours are spent either adventuring or doing PVP. While adventuring they are actively being attacked about 1/3rd or 33% of the time. That works out to around 5 hours of being attacked. That means that a player’s gear will last 135/5 hours or 27 weeks before needing to be coin repaired or replaced. So for an average player, they might only need to do this once every 6+ months! BTW, that same player would almost certainly find more than enough crowns during that time to pay for those repairs. So based on that, the crafters should be the ones freaking out right now and that might actually need an adjustment back towards faster damage. The reality though is that things that hit harder, break stuff quicker than a bear that hits for 5-8 points. Also, weapons break much quicker than armor. My best guess based on the data I’ve seen so far is that weapons will be adjusted to last a bit longer than what they do currently and armors will be be damaged more quickly before final wipe. My target number that I hope to tune to is an average player will need to replace gear about once every 3 months. For most players it will happen faster than that because they will be outgrowing their current gear and retiring it. I know this is a hot topic on both sides but we’ll be working to find a balance that feels equally fair (or equally punishing if you’re a pessimist) to both sides. That balancing will almost certainly continue post final wipe. On to the third, and possibly most contentious element, selling crowns for gold! This element was largely only contentious due to a couple screw ups on our part. The initial price of 2500 gold was thought to be so low that no one in their right minds would sell them to a vendor. That was the case when there were few and they were only dropping in game. When we added them to pledges, suddenly we flooded the market with an item that currently only had 3 purposes. First, it could be used for week long buffs. That will eliminate them all but not for weeks. Second, item repair! Also, it will remove some but not for weeks to months of people abusing their gear. That leaves only the third option for something to do with them in the short term, selling them to the vendor for gold. So our intent was that they not be used selling to vendors. The reason for this is pretty simple and tied into the economy. Doing so would create a large source of gold inputs to the economy that was not tied to any game system and couldn’t be controlled. The only way this would be feasible would be if we had a system where the value of the crowns varied based on demand. So more people selling crowns to merchants would drive down the cost. We chose not to go that route and instead make the crowns something that has value in game but little gold value (soon to be no value) in game. This allows the players to set the price BUT effectively they can still use them to buy gold but without negatively impacting the economy. This probably needs more explanation before it will sink in as to what this means. So player A wants to buy some gold with some real money. He goes and buys some crowns. He puts those crowns on a vendor for what he thinks is a fair price. Player B doesn’t believe in spending real $ and instead plays a lot and accumulates extra gold. He goes to the vendors and buys crowns from player A for in-game gold. So, why is this awesome for everyone? Player B got exactly what he wanted, effectively trading some of his time for crowns. Player A got exactly what he wanted, in game gold for real $ without having to give $ to someone he doesn’t trust. Here is the most awesome part: It doesn’t change how much gold is in the macro economy and cause inflation because it is really just gold moving from one player to another. (Oh, and the side effect is that it financially supports Portalarium to help us maintain, expand and improve the game!) Got it? Player A gives us money for coins, Player B gives Player A gold for coins he just bought and everyone wins and the inflation isn’t affected because it is just a voluntary transfer of gold from A’s pocket to B’s pocket. The only challenge for us is in making sure we have enough cool, but not P2W, elements in game to be purchased with crowns! Thanks for reading and remember, the only constant on the project is change. If something ends up not feeling as good as we planned, we'll change course as needed. EDIT: It was pointed out that currently there is a bug that is making max durability drop at the same rate as current. This will be fixed in a patch in R30! Not intended. Max should drop at roubly 10% of the rate of current.