We’ve been thinking about Stronghold progression lately — looking at Stronghold data and, of course, just playing on the live servers in various guilds (some hardcore, some more casual). We’ve decided it’s time to make it a little easier for guilds to increase their Guild Level. Go ahead and jump to the end of this blog if you want to see the changes we’ve made; what follows is some of our thinking and the approach we took.
When we originally designed Strongholds, we wanted a system that would keep players engaged for a while. We knew it would be painful (and unfair) to raise prices after the fact, so we went in conservatively, with the plan of re-evaluating the costs. We always wanted everyone to be able to participate and to make progress — sure, small guilds will be behind big ones, but every guild should be able to make some progress, and hopefully get some cool stuff. We’ve done our first cost re-evaluation, and sure enough, we’re seeing we need some changes. Right now, some things you need for your coffer (like Astral Diamonds, or certain campaign currencies) are a lot harder to get than others. When those things block your guild’s progress, it’s frustrating.
We looked at a lot of data on how far guilds have advanced, and on how full the different guild coffers are — this let us see where guilds were “stuck”. We saw some pretty consistent patterns. Guilds were having trouble with Astral Diamonds, Labor, Gems, Surplus Equipment, and the Feywild and Tyranny of Dragons campaign currencies. (Glory and Conqueror’s Shards of Power were a special case — although many guilds don’t have a lot of them in their coffers, it’s not always a problem, because those guilds will not necessarily want to invest heavily in the PvP-centric buildings that require them. We did give a little help to Glory, though, as you’ll see below.)
Astral diamonds were the biggest problem, because we made a mistake. We wanted guild projects to have a “call to arms” feel, “The guild needs Feywild marks! Everyone go to the Feywild!” And that’s a fine idea in general. But every player needs AD, all the time, for all kinds of things. It’s not fair to ask a player, especially one in a smaller, more casual guild, to donate all the AD they earn to the guild. So we explicitly represented a player “tithe” percentage on our spreadsheets, and re-did the AD Stronghold math to take that into account. This meant really dramatic reductions in AD costs, especially for lower-level guilds (where we assumed a smaller tithe).
In general, we tackled our Stronghold AD costs in three ways. The first is by outright cost reductions (as with Astral Diamonds). The second is by increasing the Guild Mark earn for a few currencies where it seemed low (to make players feel better about donating those currencies). The third was through the profession system. We created a number of new profession tasks that let crafters make “crates”: bundles of items that can be given to the guild coffers all at once. For example, if you’re a Weaponsmith, you can create Crates of Mithral Spears, which you donate for Surplus Equipment coffer points. These crates are based around what that profession naturally does, but we tried to focus on things that guild coffers especially need.
So what’s the end result?
We hope these changes will inspire any guilds that were feeling discouraged about their progress to dive back in, and will let everyone have more fun with their Stronghold and their guild. Also, we’ve been continuing to think about Strongholds and what else they need — we know these changes won’t solve every issue with Strongholds, and we have a bunch of other ideas (we actually have a couple things in the works right now, but they are still in the planning stages). We plan to keep investing in guilds and in Strongholds! These changes will go live with Neverwinter: The Maze Engine.
Robert (“Golux”) Gutschera
Senior Systems Designer