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Suggestion Herocraft in 2020

Apr 7, 2020
I. Introduction

Hi. I played HeroCraft around 2014-2015 and had a blast. I’m back recently due to COVID-19, and the server has been dead, which surprised me. After skimming through the forums, it seems like difficulty sustaining a community here isn’t a new issue. I believe HC has a ton of potential, and could have a sustained flourishing community base if the target audience is prioritized, strengths are maximized, and weaknesses are mitigated. This post is a bunch of my thoughts about where HC is and where I think it should go based on my past HC experience, my experience in 2020, and the experience of two friends I invited to play who are completely new to it. All of this is my own opinion, and I’m not gonna act like the issues are simple or that I have all of the answers, so take this with a grain of salt - they’re just my ragtag ideas.

II. Class system

Combat classes are the bread and butter of HC. HC's rogue-mage-tank/warrior-support system is classic and good. It's generally balanced: rogues have single-target burst and mobility/range that lets them shred squishy mages; mages have magic that melts through tank/warriors' armor; tanks/warriors are thicc enough to shrug off rogue damage and muscle them down; healers do their own thing and rely on team protection. Players know these archetypes, so leaning on them makes HC more intuitive to pick up. It also adds a nostalgia factor that engages players' imaginations.

There are certain vanilla classes in the fantasy RPG genre that should never be removed, while other classes are auxiliary and have different value. Primary classes in HC include arcanist, pyromancer, necromancer, ninja (or assassin archetype), pathfinder (or bowman archetype), cleric, paladin, dread knight, berserker (in my opinion). Some of these have been removed, and although I know it has likely been for good reason (some of these classes have felt cancerous at different times), having them gone sucks. We're left with what feels like a set of auxiliary classes, and what comes across is that HC is trying to be unique for no reason.

The auxiliary classes are still helpful. These include (old) samurai, runeblade, beguiler; (remaining) dragoon, bard, druid, bloodmage, monk; and (new) ender beast, chain warden, chronomancer, and hell spawn. Some of them, like dragoon or samurai, are more central and borderline primary due to (1) their status as HC classics or (2) their presence in other MMORPGs. But at the end of the day, they're more of frosting on the cake than the cake itself. The issue with these right now is that new classes like ender beast feel like they're replacing classics like paladin. Ender beast is probably a fine class, but it can never fill the paladin shoes. I don't know what an ender beast is supposed to be, and neither do new players. Keep the classic classes for the familiarity. Auxiliary classes have the most benefit as extras. Have them in addition to the traditional classes or pace their release as expansion-esque additions or something.

Leveling is an issue. This is sort of like lag, in that it will probably never not be a problem to some extent, but either (1) leveling should be easier so that players can get to late-game content/PvP, which is the main appeal of HC at the moment, or (2) leveling should be hard (if not harder) and become more of an engaging experience. More on this in the section about dungeons*.

III. Target audience

What is HeroCraft's target audience? I don't know the answer, and it's more of a choice than something with an objective correct answer, but answering it well helps give the server valuable direction. HC is unique and special; it's not regular Minecraft, but it's also not a regular MMORPG. It also shouldn't try to be either of those. I do think there is a sweet spot between the two that, while somewhat niche, would find a high demand if done well.

System requirements. Fancy spawn structures and cool, particle-effect-y hero abilities makes HC more fun. It also makes it less accessible for players with worse computers. Limiting system-intensive things makes the game more accessible, but potentially less cool. I play on a 2015 Macbook Air, and HC runs smoothly enough. I keep my settings as low as possible, and I still get laggy in team fights or with a lot of mobs around. The two friends I invited to the server have more issues than I do. For one of them, the tutorial area with several portals and complex structures was a big hurdle to get past. We were all fine once we got out to the wild. I think HC could spare some coolness to make the game more accessible. I'm not saying it should overly-simplify, but most players faced with the issues that my friends had from the get-go would not stick around. People with better computers might as well play other MMORPGs such as Guild Wars 2 (which frankly runs better on my mac some days), so keeping HC accessible to players who GW2 or WoW is not accessible to could be very valuable for widening the audience. Some abilities like arcanist's chain lightning, druid's overgrowth, or ender beast's summon ender crystal have been notoriously lag-inducing for me, for example.

Gameplay enhancement should be normalized, clarified, and expected. There are currently options for players that want to launch HC unmodded: Those sticks with abilities stuck in the 1-9 inventory spots that sometimes can't be moved or thrown out, and other times can be. These are too clunky and unhelpful. Scrolling off of a weapon to activate one of these skills would never work in a real situation. If a vanilla HC player were to fight a player utilizing a PvP-specialized resource pack, auto clicker, OptiFine, keybinding mods, etc., the vanilla player would lose every time. Several of these options shouldn't be allowed (and already aren't), and that should be stated clearly. The fair and helpful options, though, should be expected and normalized. Getting as many players as possible equipped to play with enhancements like optifine and keybinds also gives more wiggle room to increase the complexity of the skill system and general flashiness. All of this should be explained as briefly and clearly as possible*.

*note 'holy trinity of communication' below

IV. Content

The early-game should have a lot of direction. HC has big, mysterious maps, which can be fun. What's not fun is feeling like there's stuff going on and not knowing what to do. When I came back in 2020, I was seeing announcements for all of the castle captures. I had know idea where the castles were, how to capture them, what I would get for capturing, or how much of the prior information I was even supposed to know. Maybe I was supposed to go explore and find them myself..? Or maybe that would be a waste of time, as the locations were posted somewhere near the Hero Gates? It took me a few days of passively running around and asking people who didn't answer before I figured out that there was a township command for locating the castles. That wasn't fun at all. It was annoying. If you want HC to have mystery, accent that heavily, but certainly do clarify the things that players should be able to figure out more easily. But now that I know, the castles are a lot of fun. They're relatively simple, and the risk and enjoyment seems like it scales up as the community has more presence. Same deal with dungeons. I still don't know where anything is aside from the Sewer Arena and the Keep, or even if there's anything else to find, and the Keep took me time to find even as someone who had an idea of what I was looking for. Dungeons should be accessible and fun. Simple themes, rewarding that goes up as challenge goes up, and a few grindable resources or boss drop items would go a long way. If these things exist, then the information on them should be easier to find.

Getting to the mid- and late-game should be difficult, but interesting. Like dungeons, more rewarding for those who stick around, but attainable for newer people in an engaging way given some time. At this point as well as in the past, maxing classes out feels too grindy, while not maxing out is too dangerous. As a low-leveler, hanging out in the wild runs the risk of losing everything in an unwinnable fight. That PvP aspect is foundational to HC of course, but getting to higher levels shouldn't just feel like sitting in the Keep killing zombies and skeletons as each level takes longer to reach than the last. Especially if the community does pick up again, town/discord cliques that camp all of the decent exp grinding places is going to ward off newbies. Providing totally PvE dungeons for scaredy cats also frustrates the more veteran players. What should happen is, players should be able to competently participate in PvP to an extent before maxing levels. And, stepping into risk of PvP should be rewarded in a way that's balanced with the risk. It currently feels like the reward for stepping into PvP is just accessing a grinding area that's slightly less time-consuming than the PvE one.

V. Synthesis + my ideas

The holy trinity of communication includes the tutorial, the in-game help, and the website. Everything that needs clarity should be in each of these, and they should each point to one another. The hope is to have a robust system that keeps HC understandable and equips players to engage with the game with all of the tools they need to find the fun.

The tutorial should be clear, straightforward, and simple. The most organic way to make new players not feel annoyed would be to make it optional, but to have it grant a decent (for a newbie) reward upon completion, such as money or a decently large exp consumable.

in-game help should also be clear and straightforward, but can afford to be less simple in exchange for extended thorough-ness. This could take the form of a room full of signs explaining all of the rules and commands, a /help command that covers everything, or a /ch help that actually helps, potentially watched by player helpers. Having all three of these wouldn't hurt. Better to be over-resourced on help and information than under-. Currently, I don't know of any help room, /help doesn't cover enough, and /ch h is super unreliable. A help room should be right next to spawn and clearly visible. Incentive for players helping in /ch h could be a monthly mod/admin vote for 'most helpful player' or something with a nice reward like granting a small (5% - 10%) exp boost for the next month.

website should be more robust and creative. A lot of players aren't going to look at the website, which isn't ideal, but is true. If players have issues, they are more likely to wait for someone to come online to ask than they are to put a ticket on the forum and come back to check for it another day. The forum is more convenient for owners than it is for players. If people do come to the website, it would probably be for the wiki. This has the opportunity to be the nicest explanation of things like the class and profession system and dungeons in a way that adds character. Art and lore on the website and wiki build the server's character. Wynncraft's website is a good example here. It's intuitive to get info about leveling up, classes, the map, bosses/mobs, etc. They have cool art for the classes that engage players' imaginations even though the class system is tiny. Even what HC had before with the wiki having Minecraft skin art for each of the classes and a well-phrased class explanation is a lot better than nothing.

Dailies. These can create a lot of incentive for players to keep coming back. Rewarding us for everything that helps the server is mutualistic and exploitable. Give rewards out liberally with money and exp and then scale the economy and exp curve to match it. The point is that everyone feels like they are gaining something with the rewarding. A system of snowballing rewards and daily events that many mobile games use could be good.

Log-in rewards the smallest reward granted simply for logging in.
Voting rewards a nicer reward that could give something very valuable.
Daily gameplay challenge rewards this helps people to not simply log in, vote, and leave. Harder to complete with bigger rewards. Require them to complete a dungeon with a specific hero class in their party, etc. This gets them talking to other players (or just wasting money on class-changing within cliques).

*all of the above rewards should snowball. Logging in and voting once should give a small/negligible reward, but logging in and voting for x days-in-a-row should grant increasing rewards. Getting to a large streak like 100 logins in a row should grant great rewards, though it should cap off at some point.

Daily resource dungeons have resources for each class that grant exp, weapon & armor creation/upgrading, etc. Make them grindable on a dungeon rotation. Each dungeon has an easy level that grants small (S) resources, a medium level that grants medium (M) resources, and a hard level that grants large (L) resources. This could support an element of weapon collection and grinding in HC, which could expand the mid-late game experience. Weapons could be slowly power-creeped to keep things from getting too stagnant.

Monday - red resource day for rogue resources
Tuesday - yellow resource day for tank resources
Wednesday - rainbow resource day for all class resources
Thursday - blue resource day for mage resources
Friday - pink resource day for support resources
Saturday - gold day for gold (money)
Sunday - aqua day for exp-efficient dungeon

Slimes feel like a classic fantasy RPG thing and Minecraft has them built in. Make spawn a castle-y kingdom with a slime problem around its borders for new players to kill. Maybe use these for the daily resource quests.

Economy the currency should just be gold. Keep it nice and simple. Gold isn't great for much else in MC. Let it be mine-able still, and standardize worth with a few spawn shops. Synergize these with professions. Each profession should be able to make some money by doing their thing, and the money should be able to get them things they can't get themselves.

Revamped class tier system a class system where players start with a base class that caps at lv. 20 (similar to crafter). Once players reach lv. 20 and acquire a certain upgrade seal*, they can upgrade/evolve into one of two secondary classes. i.e. Knight base class from lv. 1 - 20, then having the option to upgrade into Paladin or Dread knight for lv. 21 - Max with a certain class upgrade seal.

*upgrade seals fleshed out below

16 tier-2 examples for symmetry... base class + upgrade seal secondary class
Thief + [critical seal] → Assassin
Thief + [dark seal] Ninja
Ranger + [critical seal] Sniper
Ranger + [nature seal] Hunter

Knight + [light seal] Paladin
Knight + [dark seal] Dread knight
Kensei + [critical seal] Samurai
Kensei + [nature seal] Grappler

Sorcerer + [nature seal] Elementalist
Sorcerer + [light seal] Pyromancer
Warlock + [dark seal] Necromancer
Warlock + [critical seal] Bloodmage

Acolyte + [light seal] Priest
Acolyte + [nature seal] Druid
Bard + [light seal] Troubadour
Bard + [dark seal] Siren

Each seal would work for four t2 upgrades.
[nature seal] would look like an enchanted-animation oak sapling
light seal] would look like enchanted-animation golden horse armor
dark seal] would look like an enchanted-animation bone
critical seal] would look like an enchanted-animation nether star

Additional classes
Knight + [critical seal] Dragoon HC classic

Thief + [mage seal] Runeblade HC classic

Ranger + [mage seal] Runebow Bow version of HC classic
Warlock + [critical seal] Arthromancer Mage that uses venom shots to melt armor, silk shots to stun targets, and bee and spider summoning to deal damage. Can consume summons to regain mana. Probably not possible in 1.12....

Acquiring seals would mainly be done through four lower-level PvE dungeons around spawn. To the north, a cathedral dungeon with a blaze boss that has 50% chance to drop [light seal]. To the south, a cave or cemetery dungeon with a zombie boss that has 50% chance to drop [dark seal]. To the east, a mountain dungeon with a skeleton boss that has 50% chance to drop [critical seal]. The the west, a forest dungeon with a wolf boss that has 50% chance to drop [nature seal]. [Master seal] would be a reward for maxing out a class, as well as long vote streaks, and could be used to upgrade any class including the rune classes.

Mastering t2 classes would grant said class's seal rogue, tank/fighter, mage, and support t2 classes would grant a [rogue seal], [warrior seal], [mage seal], or [support seal], respectively. Each seal would be used to upgrade to a tier 2 class of any class type immediately, regardless of level 20 being reached (i.e. using [warrior seal] would bring up the option to re-class into a lv. 20 of any of the warrior tier 2 classes).

[rogue seal] would look like an enchanted iron sword
warrior seal] would look like an enchanted axe
mage seal] would look like an enchanted hoe
support seal] would look like an enchanted cake
master seal] would look like an enchanted diamond

VI. Conclusion

Thanks for reading any of this, and excuse any typos or if the format is hard to follow. Feedback is more than welcome. I'm sure the majority of these ideas aren't possible, but I'd like to think that anything that can be done would be helpful. I just wish HC was more active. For anyone who feels similarly, log on. I'm gonna keep playing most days, so you'll probably see me on at some point if you do. I'm always down to chat about this obnoxious post, or to build something with any of you or whatever.
May 24, 2012
Still plenty of players like myself who would play if there was a place to. But who can find the time to build a town on a server that supports anything but town building. When I left, there was an idea that "we want towns so we can have wars where we tear then apart". Most of the people who build towns don't have the time to keep fixing them, especially given the insane level of difficulty involved in founding and building them I the face of constant harrassment. Sadly there just isn't any server out there that supports a gameplay that balances building with other elements. This the only reason I have moved in to other games. If I want only pvp there are better games, if I want only pve there are better games. If I want only building there are better games, if I want only rpg, better games. Only Minecraft has managed to balance these aspects, and only on a few servers at that. HC was one of those servers for a time, but it sadly lost its way some time ago.
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