City of Heroes Issue 13 is enormous. Even with the Mission Architect pushed out to early next year, the next big patch coming to City of Heroes has enough content to satisfy a small army of players. We've talked previously about the upcoming PvP changes, the Day Job system, and we had the chance for extensive conversations with the developers back when the Issue was first announced. That said, there's still a lot of ground to cover.

That's why we were thrilled when designer Phil Zeleski and the infamous Matt 'Positron' Miller reached out to us to clarify what's coming down the pipe with game rewards. We chatted with the gents extensively about the new and improved meta-currency coming to City of Heroes. It's going to make Task Forces and Story Arcs far more rewarding for the average player, and the background behind their design is fascinating. Join us below the cut for discussions about how they chose what rewards to give out, trends along these lines in the indstry, and much more.

"We wanted to more accurately reward players for the time they've spent inside our game. We came up with the Merit rewards system to do that. The idea is to give players rewards for completing task forces, story arcs, trials, and defeating giant monsters."

Thank you for your time today, gentlemen. Can you give us a sense of what you folks have planned for the City of Heroes merit system?

Phil Zeleski: Basically the background on this is that we wanted to more accurately reward players for the time they've spent inside our game. We came up with the Merit rewards system to do that. The idea is to give players rewards for completing task forces, story arcs, trials, and defeating giant monsters. We've replaced the reward system in our game with more accurate rewards.

On completing various tasks you'll see "Merit Awarded". This will be a special piece of salvage that you can spend to buy random rolls (like you could from Task Forces in the past), and also purchase specific enhancements. You can go and buy a Numina's Convalescence, +recovery +regeneration enhancement, if you want to. Or you can do things in the same way we did things in the past, to get random rolls.

That's how that will work!

Matt Miller: Those random rolls obviously cost far fewer merits than drilling down to get a specific enhancement from the system.

You're targeting this specifically at Task Forces and Story Arcs. You mention time vs. reward for these systems, how are you looking at merits for early task forces versus say, the Statesman Task Force in the endgame?

Phil: All of those Task Forces give a different number of merits. What we did was take the average time it takes to complete each of these events – we did a lot of data mining – and for every five minutes you spend in a task force you'll earn one merit. That's based off of average time, not the actual time the players spend in the task. Story Arcs give significantly less for every five minutes, and Trials give more.

Just to give some examples of what players will be looking at, the Positron Task force gives out 55. That's enough for almost three random rolls, as opposed to only one. Synapse gives out 45 merits, so that's two random rewards. Then shorter tasks are going to give less. Statesman and Lord Recluse TFs give out 20 to 30. They are shorter, and based on our metrics they should fall under the 'less than 25' category. That said, since they're so difficult we've given out an added reward on top of that.

Matt: Yeah, that's something to note: these are not just auto-generated numbers. Human eyes were put on each of these merit rewards to make sure they scaled for difficulty.

When you talk about Story Arcs, can you single out quest chains in particular folks can be looking forward to getting merit rewards for completing?

Phil: Sure! For the Praetorian Story Arc, where you get to see all those soldiers, that earns 19 merits. The Skulls Story Arc down in level 10 range, that gives out 7 merits. They range between 2 and 27 depending on how long that series of tasks is.

For the most bang for your buck, merit-wise, you're going to want to do Task Forces then. They're just a nice kick-in reward for completing these longer story chains then.

Phil: That's exactly right.

This article was originally published on Massively.
A look at World of Warcraft's unique characteristics