Impenetrable. The enemy controls every major stronghold in the zone. Breaching the runegates poses a challenge in and of itself, but no force could hope to stand for long without a firm staging area within the enemy territory. But hope prevails as whispers return from the warfront of an ancient ley line, long forgotten by the denizens of this world.
Den Thron erobern
Throughout the course of development, the Crowfall team has iterated over many aspects of the gameplay offered by capture locations. The latest iteration, as seen in the Trial of Maeve, assigns a dedicated schedule of vulnerability to each fort and keep.
This system of siege windows was chosen in order to leverage trends in population time and activity patterns, seen not just in Crowfall but modeled after player behavior common to all MMOs. By helping to highlight opportunities for conflict, we hope to create focused, engaging and strategic new gameplay opportunities for all of our players.
This change leaves the outposts as our always-vulnerable strategic capture locations. They currently come in two variants: a campfire, which offers two stationary guards near a cooking crafting station, and a tower, which offers three stationary guards defending a higher vantage point.
In terms of the ongoing Throne War, both contribute an equal amount of victory points per tick. The main differences between the outposts come via the utility that they offer the owning faction.
Early into the previous development cycle, the team had already decided on the future incorporation of siege windows. This gave us the opportunity to more finely examine how the current iteration of outposts was affecting gameplay and their reception by the players. Based on feedback from the players, it became clear that the benefits offered by the outposts were lacking, regardless of the fact that they contributed victory points to the Throne War. In the Trial of Maeve, this is still the case.
We were able to take some immediate actions, adjusting the total amount of outposts per zone and their percent contribution towards a campaign’s total victory points. Beyond that, we want to add more utility to these locations.
We started creating prototypes that would help increase the variety of services and benefits offered by each outpost type and to increase the effectiveness of those locations. An early iteration of one possible prototype, upgradable guards, was even made available to testers at one point. The change leveraged some of our existing upgrade systems and was aimed at offering players the chance to increase their NPC Defenders’ combat prowess.
However, the available depth of the upgrade systems didn’t get us close enough to what really excited us about the feature. Eventually, we decided to roll the prototype back (at least until we have enough bandwidth to reassess and consider fully featured version in the future). Of the remaining prototypes, some were scrapped altogether; others may eventually come back to light.
We’ve had a number of ideas here: advanced crafting stations, banking kiosks, runegates, sacrifice braziers… basically, any service that we are comfortable placing in the world(s) is a candidate for an outpost location. After many different prototypes were examined, there was a clear contender for the first utility addition: respawn locations. So that’s the first one we added.
With the Trial of Maeve, the flow of our respawn system has changed significantly. Neutral respawn locations on runegate parcels have been removed, leaving the only respawn locations available within the walls of the forts and keeps.
While we want to maintain many aspects of the emerging zone lockdown dynamics created by this change, we also saw an opportunity to provide an new outpost utility. One that would allow a “fallback point” for harvesting, hunting, and (most importantly) for siege operations.
One of the more exciting prospects this brings to the table is an opportunity for conflict over an always vulnerable respawn area. Without a respawn area in the zone, Crows are forced to travel through the runegates to another zone where they have a refuge or return all the way to their faction’s beachhead base.
Either option means that the efforts of the encroaching forces are unlikely to receive refreshed troops in a timely manner. By maintaining vigil over the outpost, the defending forces complete their lockout of an area. Losing the outpost offers their enemies an uncomfortably close staging ground for their assaults.
As with other outposts, a capture ring and resting ring are present. After standing in the capture ring long enough to claim the outpost, the player’s faction wins the loyalty of four stationary guards to keep watch over the area. The respawn statue may then be used by members of the controlling faction to resurrect themselves.
We’re aware that one thing that still needs to be adjusted is the time-to-capture; we need to tighten the band. Right now it takes too long for small groups and not enough time for larger forces. This holds for fort captures, as well. It’s on the list of “things we need to balance” and we’ll get to it when we have the resources available to do so.