Take a peek at the development of Shroud of the Avatar’s player-designed dungeon system

    
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Drama seems to plague Shroud of the Avatar, but if you can look past it, there’s some fun innovation going on inside Portalarium in regard to MMO mechanics. Portalarium Technical Director Chris Spears, for example, has been slowly revealing a massive new player-generated dungeon system for the game, hidden away in the bowels of the forums until this week’s newsletter.

If you’re a fan of City of Heroes’ old Mission Architect, Star Trek Online’s Foundry, or even Star Wars Galaxies’ ancient Chronicles system, you’ll see remnants of all of those in this system. Basically, you buy blueprints for individual pieces from NPCs, then combine them with mats to build your dungeon space chunk by chunk, on a housing lot, out in the real world. Eventually, you’ll populate “encounter rooms” with mobs and make it a real delve for other players.

“In exciting news we have been able to make faster progress on Player Made Dungeons than expected due to how much it uses underlying systems like our basements,” Portalarium says. “While we had originally planned this for an Episode 2 feature we now believe we can have a version of the system up and running as soon as Q4 of this year without affecting our work on other systems like Fishing! To kick off the upcoming launch of this exciting player made content we are going make available five dungeon entrances, along with five static example dungeons in Release 57. One dungeon entrance and one example dungeon will be craftable, four will be purchasable from the Add On Store. The included static example dungeons, complete with creatures and loot, will vary in point size and difficulty level and can be used until the player built dungeon feature goes live.”

Spears himself is definitely cognizant of some of the problems these types of player-designed missions can cause, note.

“As for avoiding repeating the mistakes of the Foundry system in [Neverwinter], no worries. Pretty much a fact that if you give players a set of rules, they will find the limits to exactly minmax those rules ASAP. Our system will work very much like our in world dungeons but with a hair tougher risk vs reward cycle. By that I mean that, like control points, there will be special versions of player dungeon creatures. These will effectively have the rewards of creatures 1-2 tiers lower. So they might fight like a tier 10 but give XP and gold like a tier 8. We’re looking at other options to avoid the obvious player dungeon exploit of linking a daemon room to a daemon room to a daemon room to a daemon room, repeat until you have a big circle of daemons waiting to be farmed.”

Source: Newsletter, official forums. Cheers, BluntedJ.

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Vagabond Sam

Of course they also linked this with your level of wealth.

The bigger your housing lot, the bigger your dungeon can be.

And when house deeds are the high price they go for in Shroud, it’s a shame to see a system that should reward the most creative players, be only fully accessible by the richest.

Even finding a variety of dungeon skins means going to the cash shop as it looked like they only had one skin available via in game means.

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Victor Didra

This dungeon is currently planned to be 1/2 the size of what a row can create, so you get a pretty big one out the door. And the prices for upgrading dungeon size were looking to be payable all with in game gold and a reasonable price.

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Vagabond Sam

I still think it’s a mistake to infect every game feature with Cash Shop scaling.

SOTA needs to be offering new players more with the box price if the attrition in steam population is reflective of the total population. Not continuing to double down on monetizing every system in game.

rafterman74
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rafterman74

They can’t do that, though. They’ve created a playerbase full of whales and that’s who they have to develop for now. They aren’t creating anything for new players because there aren’t any new players. This game is as popular as it will ever be and the current players are perfectly fine with that.

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Robert Mann

I think a better system would be having set minimum requirements. Those could include a start and end point a minimum distance from each other, density mapping (aka, creature placements around the dungeon make a need for creature placements to balance elsewhere, if one tries to put everything right at one end it causes it not to work well), and placing all rewards into an end-of-run chest with a penalty for leaving (based on % of the dungeon completed).

For the density mapping, imagine that a monster spot places an area around it. When the dungeon is published, each area expands to touch the other areas and fill the dungeon map if needed (and makes the monsters tougher as it fills more). This would not apply to town or other peaceful areas (but those would be limited to a maximum % of the dungeon). Those areas would not count toward the filling, but would not stop it either.

Cluster of loot mobs and leave is solved. High density here and low elsewhere to burn it all at once, solved. Forget the reduced loot, just make the designs meet some standards. :)

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Brown Jenkin

“As for avoiding repeating the mistakes of the Foundry system in [Neverwinter], no worries. Pretty much a fact that if you give players a set of rules, they will find the limits to exactly minmax those rules ASAP. Our system will work very much like our in world dungeons but with a hair tougher risk vs reward cycle. By that I mean that, like control points, there will be special versions of player dungeon creatures. These will effectively have the rewards of creatures 1-2 tiers lower.

So I mean I love this idea and I think it was one of the best things ever to come out of Neverwinter (their combat system is also good) but I’m not seeing how Shroud addresses that by just making rewards shit? Is the idea that the player dungeons then only exist for the lulz? I mean that’s kind of how they ended up in Neverwinter, still great for RP etc but a dummy way to actually pursue progression.

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Robert Mann

That… was because people abused it until it got mega-nerfed.

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Fionwyn Wyldemane

I’ve been a backer of Shroud of the Avatar for 3.5 years and I love it! It has been a most interesting journey working directly with Portalarium to develop the game. It has only been released for a few months so there are things that need to be fixed. That is how it goes for pretty much any new game.

I don’t know about drama, the OP didn’t specify exactly what drama is being referred to. It concerns me that it was even mentioned in such a vague way. I think it reinforces negative stereotypes about the game. Which isn’t quite fair IMO.

All that said, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of dungeons people come up with. There are a LOT of creative types for whom this is going to be the ultimate deco challenge!

People have been predicting the demise of SOTA the whole time I’ve been involved with the project. I think the naysayers are wrong and I look forward to playing SOTA long into my retirement years :-)

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Thomas Zervogiannis

don’t know about drama, the OP didn’t specify exactly what drama is being referred to. It concerns me that it was even mentioned in such a vague way. I think it reinforces negative stereotypes about the game. Which isn’t quite fair IMO.

Amen. Personally I have no love for SOTA, but I would prefer the tone of the articles to be neutral and purely factual, especially since there is also a comment section below for thoughts and opinions (this one is quite subtle compared to others, see for example https://massivelyop.com/2018/03/25/league-of-legends-finally-adds-voice-chat/, and there are at least a few drama moments in SOTA throughout its lifetime, recently for example https://massivelyop.com/2018/07/05/richard-garriott-rejects-idea-that-shroud-of-the-avatar-is-a-flop-says-the-game-will-run-forever/ and https://massivelyop.com/2018/06/20/shroud-of-the-avatar-suffers-layoffs-saying-right-sizing-is-needed-ahead-of-episode-2/, or the infamous telethons and the blood selling incident)…

… but eh, their blog their rules :)

rafterman74
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rafterman74

The only way someone involved with this game doesn’t know about the drama is if they either don’t follow it on forums or only follow the official forums, where the militant defenders pretty much run off anyone with anything negative to say about the game.

People have been predicting, quite accurately, that this game is going nowhere. And unless you are retiring this year I’d make other plans.

It has a 58 on Metacritic (and 53% positive on Steam) for a reason.

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Mikka Hansen

I dont think this game will see the end of the year, thankfully. doing weekly begathons, reeks of pure desperation

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Weilan

This game feels like a lost cause and I can’t seem to shake off the feeling, it’s not like Bless Online, where they are arrogantly selling a F2P game for $30, but it feels like no matter what they do, it will fail.

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Victor Didra

Shroud of the Avatar: For when you really, really want to make some cool stuff. I swear, when I think one word for Shroud, I always come back with “Freedom”. And now I’ll be free to be a dungeon master!

This is going to be great. I don’t know when the more advanced player created quest systems will come online but that will fit in quite handily with our dungeons system. I’m pretty excited, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

And if anyone wants to see Chris talking about it:

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DeadlyAccurate

We’re looking at other options to avoid the obvious player dungeon exploit of linking a daemon room to a daemon room to a daemon room to a daemon room, repeat until you have a big circle of daemons waiting to be farmed.”

Seems it would work if each monster had a point value, and you can only have [x] many total points for a dungeon.