Phil: Really our goal was to more accurately reward players for their time. Give players what they want, give them more choices. Do they want the random roll? Do they want to save up for something specific? This turned out as our best option, a universal currency system, and that's how that came about.
Matt: Which is not to say we dislike the side effect this has on gold farmers. You can buy as much influence as you want, but it's not going to get you any more merits. Your time in playing the game is what we're trying to reward.
"You can buy as much influence as you want, but it's not going to get you any more merits. Your time in playing the game is what we're trying to reward."
You mentioned that you did some serious data-mining to tune this system. Can you talk sort of broadly about what role data-mining takes for City of Heroes? How heavily do you use it when making design decisions?
Matt: Yeah, we datamine a lot of stuff. Especially if we're going to do any tweaks to powers or change the reward systems. We have a lot of data that we've collected over the years so we know how players approach the game. When players gravitate towards something it shows us inherently where we need to be looking. If players are doing a certain Task Force because it's the fastest thing to do and gives the best rewards, we know the players are really looking for a way to specify what rewards they're getting.
That's one area where datamining has helped us. If we know players are not picking certain powers then we know those powers are probably on the low end of the scale for usefulness. We'll make design decisions to tweak them, then. We can datamine how much damage powers are doing overall and really see whether power A is balanced against power B like we thought they'd be. It could be that power B needs a buff to catch up to power A.
We use datamining a lot, then. Especially on the power side to make sure our decisions are grounded in fact and not just in anecdotal evidence or gut feelings.
Phil: For the merit reward system, what we looked at was how long it took to complete the task and how frequently those tasks are done. Those are the factors that we took into account when we came up with the costs for particular items in the system as well as the rewards that were given out for each task.
Is there anything else you wanted to offer up to players about the Merit system?
Phil: Sure, it would just be good to mention that this is an ongoing process. If we see that some of these tasks are not rewarding enough merits, we'll address that. We'll continue to tweak things to make sure that they're rewarding merits in line with the time and difficulty of the task. We want to make sure everything is valued appropriately. We'll also be adding more items to merit reward vendors, eventually. We'll further expand the system as time moves on in a number of different ways.
Thanks so much for your time, gentlemen.