This is going to be a long post. There is no way around that. I will try to keep it as organized as I can to make reading easier on the eyes. There is simply too much information for a simple TLDR. I apologize in advance. Herocraft will always have a special place in my heart, but now that I have finished becoming a Game Designer, it's time to do things right. Lets start out with some terminology to better explain why I am making these observations. State of Play: That feeling players get when they are so immersed in a game that they forget almost everything else and "become one" with the moment. This happens with almost any activity or hobby and is not exclusive to video games. The state of Play falls inbetween monotonous boredom of how simple an act is and frustration over how difficult an act is. In video games, it is a Game Designer's job to try to make players fall between the two and enjoy a state of Play for as long as possible. Negative Feedback: When talking about games, Negative Feedback is any sort of punishment system to prevent players who are doing well to continue to do well to the point of boredom with success. A great example of a game with a Negative Feedback Loop is Mario Kart. The person in the lead gets crappy items like bananas and green turtle shells while the person in the last place gets exclusive access to some of the most powerful items. The better you do in Mario Kart, the greater a point of disadvantage you are put in. While most players will proclaim that they hate Negative Feedback - dying and losing their items, needing to start over, things being "too difficult" - Negative Feedback is essential to the longevity and livelihood of a game, and making the game simpler due to people complaining of the fact normally leads to boredom and the death of gameplay. Most people don't know it, but they love to be punished (not a sexy kink thing at all, its just a fact that most do not accept). Meaningful Choices: There are choices all around us, but meaningful choices are what make us happy. If you give a man a choice of either taking $3.00 or $5.00, it is a choice, but not meaningful. The better choice is obvious, and while the person just got a free $5.00, his joy does not come from the choice he made, but from the money - and that joy is just as short lived as $5.00 in today's economy. Meaningful choices are options presented to someone with different risks and outcomes. The important thing about meaningful choices is that sometimes a choice may seem to be the better choice, end out to be the worst choice possible, but the player still feels a glimpse of joy because he was able to make that choice and learn from it or even mold that bad choice into a good one. Now that we have some fancy words out in the open, lets make a list of things that need fixing in Herocraft. - Too Many Positive Feedback Loops - Very Few Meaningful Choices - Contradictory Fighting Gamestyles - Very Little Reinforcing Progressive Feedback Positive Feedback Loops Dying and having all of your things is a core part of Minecraft gameplay. In fact, this negative feedback is one of the reasons the game is so successful. It encourages players to get back on their feet and either fight to get back what they lost or start over to rebuild again. There are many other negative feedback loops within Minecraft itself that have also been done away with, but with reason. - Structures in towns are now protected from being destroyed so players need not fear the loss of their creations (good choice). - Constant expenditure of food to keep one's stamina up in order to heal and accomplish menial tasks has been replaced by a resource bar for stamina skills (needs quite a bit of tweaking). Dropping your loot when you die was one of the last negative feedbacks that Herocraft had to tout around and give to players, yet Herocraft has not only removed this core mechanic of Minecraft, but it has strapped explosives to it after shooting it in the head, drowning it in a river, and taking away it's lollipop. There are No-PVP zones, death chests, drop-box commands, and a get out of any questionably dangerous situation button called "/skill recall". While several of these would not be as big of problems if combat were done right (more on that subject later), but they would only not be as big of a problem if they were the only problem instead of a group of them all contributing to the death of this staple mechanic. Unfortunately, having so many positive feedback loops to protect one's goods has utterly destroyed one of the only remaining negative feedback loops that SHOULD be still in the game with Herocraft's given gameplay. - Know you're going to die? Drop-box the important stuff. - Couldn't drop-box it in time? Keep grabbing your death chest and inch it closer to a safe zone until it's fine. - Have too many valuable items after filling your drop-box with stuff and don't want to risk losing them? Just do away with a meaningful decision of how to get back to base safely by using /skill recall. I would propose that Drop-box be removed entirely. Being a donor myself, I am willing to sacrifice the "convenience" for the longevity of the game. Meanwhile, I understand the marketing value of the mechanic, and as a Game Designer would settle with being unable to drop-transfer items either outside of comfort zones (towns, personal regions, etc), No-PVP zones, or during combat. Modifying when it can be used and allowing it to stay would be destroying many meaningful decisions for players because it is the outright best choice. Herocraft has become a world with Herogates to quickly transport to far out reaches of the map, dungeons with limited space for the players to explore, special warps for members of towns to get to their town, and has a plethora of classes with many quick-travel techniques to get where one wishes to go. Not only is recall not needed because of the vast ways of transportation/map coordinated provided by the game and the approved modpack to go with the server, but it is being abused to ruin many more meaningful decisions and opportunities for the community to engage in activities and grow. If recall is to remain a skill, it should be either limited to a specific class or a reward obtained for mastering specific classes which would provide a sense of progression in a small way. If either of those options still remain, the skill should most definitely have the reagent cost of the spell increased greatly - to the point where using it is expensive enough to be a meaningful decision. Death chests are not as bad if combat were fixed. Getting rid of auto-loot would be a start. The problem is fixing combat - it will not be quick nor easy. Meaningful Choices As the game stands, there are plenty of choices - in fact, there might be too many that it is getting on the border of confusion and complexity - but the problem is that almost none of these choices are meaningful. Let's separate the types of choices involved into groups and talk about how to improve them individually. What to do? In it's current form, when players log on, players have four choices on what to do: - Go to dungeons to level their fighter class - Go mining to level their crafter class - Gather resources and build up towns - Hunt for people to pvp with Almost all of these choices in their current form are exclusive and limiting. Each is within its own zone/world with little-to-no crossover. There is almost no multi-tasking of the options unless another player is seeking out pvp in one of the areas. The only cross-over between these choices is dependent on the actions and desires of another player. These are indeed choices, but almost none of them meaningful, and worst of all is that all of these choices are almost completely separated. This breaks the immersion of the game and will instantly put a halt to anyone's state of Play. It also leaves a distaste from switching from one aspect to the other because of how completely separate and different each task is. To remedy this, Herocraft needs ways to increase immersion, combine availability of working on these tasks in relatively same areas, goals with risks/rewards that promote working together, and weekly/daily race-type competitions with rewards (who can turn in # of X resource today for Y reward first?). Adding in an automatic bounty-type system would also generate a great meaningful decision mechanic for both the offender deciding if the kill is worth the bounty and the receiver for the bounty - bounty system would need to be thought through thoroughly to hinder or at least create more gameplay opportunities from abuse. Adding menial tasks to pass the down-time - like re-introducing the lottery. - Adding interactive-dungeons to the real world with mobs spawning would be a great addition, yet I understand this takes work and planning. It would greatly help the state of the game, but I understand how difficult this may be. Simply stating what would help the server, whether simple fixes or not. - Adding limited crafting quests every day for players to gain in crafting exp would also create a great opportunity. It would be even better if many of these quests required some drops from mobs from certain zones to accomplish such a task. This combines both crafting and PVE killing to get a task done. - A good example of working together to achieve a goal was the mob-arena. While outdated and thoroughly abused, there are other ways to accomplish the same means. Holding off an invasion of spiders at Ruby Temple. Succeed and everyone gets a random drop who participated enough. Fail and nobody can claim the Ruby Temple that day. - It's a guarantee that people will try to abuse the bounty system if it is automated. Off the top of my head after thinking about it for a whole two-minutes, I have come up with a probably very erroneous idea, but I'll let people speculate. If a player has a bounty on their head, other players can access a bounty board. The bounty board will allow the players to see who has bounties, for how much, and tell the bounty player's current location when activated if the player is officially hunting that player. From that board (and only from that board), they can also accept the duty to hunt down these bounties. Once a player accepts the duty to hunt down a bounty, it is declared on the server. Death will remove the quest to hunt down the player, as well as logging out. Once the player with the bounty has been slain by a bounty hunter, that player's head will drop and the quest is completed. The head will have on it one of the four randomly chosen herogate locations where they can turn the head in for the money. If the player uses any kind of warp such as recall or warpgate, etc, the head will disappear and the bounty hunt quest must be picked up again. If the player with the head dies or disconnects from the game, the head will disappear. Meaningful Choices in Combat This is going to be quite a big section. This is probably the most important fix to Herocraft, but it will take a LOT of work. Let's list what should have meaningful choices and then how to obtain them. - What class to pick - What abilities to use and when - When/whether to run from a fight - What armor to wear There has been a blatant difference in what classes are the dominant class since I have returned to Herocraft. Classes that can come back from death with damaging abilities and disregard to equipment or need for items are very powerful compared to their weapon-clicking, armor-needing cousins. This shows great flaws in the need for items, how skills are handled, and the current state of combat resource management. Minecraft's hunger bar is a great resource that I feel is not being used how it should be. Minecraft put that resource bar there for combat purposes on purpose, and changing it to the form it is now is not well in terms of meaningful decisions with risk/reward choices in combat. The only actual resource bar that matters in combat is mana. Once that mana is gone, there is only one option: run until you have more mana. The reason that is the only option is because there is no penalty for running. We need to tie in some of Minecraft's hunger mechanics in with our own stamina bar and include meaningful choice on how to handle them through types of armor. I would propose that when taking hits from physical blows, it reduces one's stamina. The more damage done by the blow, the more stamina is lost. If a player is sprinting, regeneration of stamina is slowed. If stamina falls below 3 meat chunks, the player is unable to sprint. I would also propose that all offensive spells require stamina on top of their mana requirements to cast. Players may reduce the amount of stamina lost from blows by using armor. Armor Armor should change completely. What type of armor pieces the player is wearing compared to the class's strength will grant certain boons or curses. Spells or magic orient should be able to somewhat penetrate armor to do more damage than a physical blow, but still have the hit to stamina reduced. -While wearing no armor, mana regeneration is increased. -While wearing leather armor, mana regeneration is normal and damage is reduced based on the armor amount. -While wearing chain armor, mana regeneration is reduced but lower damaging attacks do not drain as much stamina. -While wearing plate armor (iron), mana regeneration is reduced, medium damaging attacks do not drain as much stamina, but if your class is not strong enough, the armor will either slow your movement speed or your stamina regeneration. -While wearing diamond plate armor, mana regeneration is reduced, higher damaging abilities do not drain as much stamina, but if your class is not strong enough, the armor will either greatly slow your movement speed or your stamina regeneration. -While wearing gold plate armor, mana regeneration is normal, lower damaging attacks do not drain as much stamina. We can even change how armor is crafted to enable these buffs. All players can "craft" whatever piece of armor they wish, but only a blacksmith or an NPC in town can "fit" the armor for wearing. The NPC will come at a cost of the armor piece to be fitted as well as some kind of cost. A blacksmith player can do it for free, or charge a fee. Once "fitted" the armor can apply the buffs/debuffs and be worn. Now players can choose a playstyle with a class type through armor. The choice in what armor you wear provides certain risks/rewards with resource management. Since spells and abilities cost stamina and the stamina bar now has value, fleeing characters can be slowed to prevent them from simply escaping as easily as they can now. Choosing when and how to use your abilities against certain opponents now has meaningful decisions. This also gives physical weapon users an advantage when they have a weapon and are within melee range, giving more meaningful choice as to being a caster that can simply just back into the fight after dying, but needing to hold back because people with weapons can make quick work of shutting him up and preventing escape. Death chests are now much more difficult to reclaim and escape with without help or coming back prepared with more armor/weapons as a risk/reward for both parties involved. It is important that sometimes players lose so that others can win. It is also important to know when to move on with the chances pitted against you. Combat Minecraft is an action combat game. I notice Herocraft trying to become that way through changing how many skills work, but the skills being changed are known as skill-shot skills, and are not considered action combat. Combat is too quickly paced for a melee/spell combat game. In a matter of seconds, most combat sessions can determine who the winning party is. It is then a question of whether the losing party can survive or not. This provides a feeling of frustration and hopelessness for one party, and a temporary feeling of success, but it only feeds the carnal pleasure of dominance instead of the fulfilling joy of a well-earned victory. The frustrated party will detest PVP while the dominant party will soon become bored and look for another victim to continue the temporary stint of pleasure. As much as I commend the balance team for their hard work, it is obvious that their efforts of balancing are aimed toward "who can kill who in what way" instead of trying to create a well-balanced fight where killing each other does not come easy. Fighting does not always need to end in death. There's a difference between a battle and a slaughter. It is not the balance team's fault. They are doing the best they can with the skills they have been given. Herocraft is also very old, and as you can see from the Shaman class, many of it's skills are based off old MMOs - which mainly had target clicking abilities and were not action combat games. I am currently working on a small combat simulator to demonstrate what action combat and meaningful decision skills look/feel like. Herocraft's abilities are wonderful abilities for a target based skill clicking game, but as Minecraft just came out with a giant combat overhaul expansion that is directly shoving combat even more towards action combat, I feel Herocraft should embrace and magnify that style of combat instead of creating a mutant child with WoW skills. Healing sucks. From a professional opinion, it sucks. I enjoy support classes of all types and of all games, except here. Slowing down combat by making sprint cost something, and allowing for healers to pick heavier armor to last longer is a start, but target heals with the amount of silences and shove abilities to remove those targets from range during casts is horrid. Healers can either heal themselves very well and are OP or can't manage to get any heals off during pvp and are garbage. Healers need more dynamic, action-oriented mechanics. I will try to add some examples of those in the simulator as well. Meaningful Choices Towards Progression Players need to feel as though their efforts meant something in order for their choices to feel as though they were meaningful. Currently, players are leveling a crafter class because it meshes well with their town's composition or it best suits their playstyle/class. Most players will only ever level one crafter class to max and stop. Combat classes are played until frustration kicks in and then abandoned because the balance team is changing something or the player feels they have found a class with OP skills. When a player gets to max level, the only reward they get other than the skill they were aiming for is the mysterious possibility that their class could get them to a legendary class. The randomness of this entire ordeal to achieve legendary class status is more of a frustration than a reward. Giving players certain skills that they can obtain and tether to their soul - regardless of what class they are - after maxing out a class would be a great boon to strive for, and let the player feel as though they are progressing. Level 2-3 caster classes to get Recall Level 2-3 warrior classes to get Second Wind Level 2-3 rogue classes to get Sneak etc. Those are just examples, but these are a great way to reward players along the way as they go above and beyond just leveling the latest OP class. This gives players something to strive for, as well as a reason to play classes that might be under-powered and create a more diverse community. I had planned to go on further, but it is early in the morning and I am tired and making typing mistakes. I will always love Herocraft, regardless. I'm just trying to show some observations I have. Most people are blaming the numbers on abilities or the lack of pvp or players or the balance team. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the core of how the game has been built. If we decide we would like to make some meaningful changes, I would love to help - even if they aren't in sync with my suggestions.