Path of Exile is probably the most complex Diablo game
A few days ago, in order to write a design note about game duration design, I logged into the POE international server account again to finish the fourth act. In the process of playing the fourth act, I was surprised to find that when I played POE 3 years ago when I was doing equipment and poe currency trading, I added 20 or 30 merchant friends, and 70% of them were still in this game. It continues to be active, and even their shop is still doing business! These people's stores have actually opened from 2013, when the average player level is 70, to the top 100, and the core user retention rate is really horribly high.
What does this mean for game designers? It means that the game design scheme used by POE has this ability: it is a design scheme that allows the most utilitarian, most time-consuming, and most efficient core players to invest their time in it almost infinitely. They successfully used the limited role training strategy, equipment design and economic system design to achieve a game with a very high game length and depth.
In today’s era where “game time and rewards are more and more important”, it’s a very important feature. It’s worth returning to this game. I will write a design note on this to discuss how they did it through complex game design. At this point. Moreover, it happens that the national service POE is going to be tested again, and it happens to be a lively to pull some traffic.
Probably the most complicated dark game in the world
The team of game designers in Path of Exile is probably the team that doesn't care about complicating the design the least in the world now-most of the teams and companies that care less than them have gone bankrupt. Most of the POE designs are not amazing-this is a relatively implicit statement. In fact, most of the design of this game seems to be so complicated that it triggers a phobia of dense objects; it is not so amazing as it is a little frightening. When I first wrote POE three years ago, it already left such an impression. Three years ago, I had already criticized the talent disk that was enough to scare off most ordinary players, and it was filled with talent points like thousands of stars.
What now? It's still like this now!
But conversely, the complexity of the design also means "more." If you are looking for some inspiration for game design, POE is a very good, non-quality inspiration storehouse. Three years later, this talent disk has become more complicated and more complicated than before. At least 200 large and small nodes have been changed and added and deleted, and it is even possible to directly embed items on the talent disk. In addition, the game also adds a much smaller set of transcendence career talent trees, which are divided into 19 transcendence careers based on 7 basic professions. At first glance, it seems to be returning to the routine of traditional games; but if you consider The points of these high-level professions are also based on the huge talent disk of 1325 points. The same resources are used, and there are even some points that can make you start from different places on the talent disk, and you really can’t laugh.
As the iconic design of POE, the "plus and minus dual-effect talent points" not only have not been deleted, but even worsened: Compared with three years ago, there are more core dual-effect talent points with negative effects, probably than when I played last time. Increased by 6 or 8. These special talent points with negative effects are called "Keystone" by the game. They originally meant the core stone called "Keystone" at the top of the vault, but here I always think it is...their brain The hole is as big as the arch. These talent points with negative effects are similar to "You will never miss again, but you will never hit hard", "You will not be damaged by any real chaos, but the cost is that HP will always become 1" or even "Your own skills cannot Cause damage but you can call up another totem".
That's right, all of them look like the designer's lack of mind. Such brain holes rarely appear in general games. Everyone thinks that if you put them in, you will probably be killed by the player, but in the POE, they are thrown on the talent board so much, waiting for the player to use them as the core. The new battle plan comes. I guess that there may be a quarter of the dual-effect talents in it. From the beginning of the server until now, there has not been any decent top-level Build, but it does not affect the official continuous addition of new brains in these several versions. hole.
In other parts, the game also faithfully implements the core design idea of "We are not afraid of complicated design, we dare to add it if you dare to think about it". In the past three years or so, the huge poe currency trading system I wrote about has become more complicated: At that time, the currency and equipment processing system in the game contained 23 currencies, and the current version is 24 and 164. The card tokens that can be exchanged for equipment...not to mention the 164 tokens that are the same as the quest drop, but the newly added one corresponds to a huge set of new processes and has more than a dozen unique attributes. And working logic. Another huge change is that the objects available for these 24 currencies have greatly expanded: in the version more than three years ago, these currencies were used to "do everything you can think of with equipment", and now They can be used not only for equipment, but also to "do everything you can think of for everything that has attributes in the game"! These path of exile currency items can be used to change the various attributes of the level map, change the various attributes of the top treasure chest, and even change the various attributes of the elite monsters and BOSS triggers, so that players can get better and more targeted Falling... Now this version of POE really feels a bit "nothing but brushing". All the attributes you brush out for treasure chests, maps, and BOSS will further affect the drops in these maps, forming an equipment enhancement cycle that does not require planning.
Similarly, the system for making skill stones in the form of chains has also been greatly modified and more brains have been added. The total number of skill stones and passive enhancement stones is more than twice that of the version I played more than three years ago. These stones form more core builders and provide more diversified tactical options in the later maps. These three are superimposed together. It can be said that the current version is at least an order of magnitude more complex than the version I played three years ago. It is so complicated that with the limited number of players in this game, it is impossible to exhaust powerful tactical combinations. A friend of mine who is still playing POE told me that there is such an anecdote in the circle: the official once released a BOSS demo video, in which the official character showed an almost impossible magic skill. No one in the entire player community felt that this was just a performance, but felt that "we must have not figured out the correct usage of this skill stone", and invested in the vigorous Build tactical discussion, until the official embarrassment came out to refute the rumors: no , It’s just that the video production team shortened the killing process of this BOSS for the sake of effect.
So, having said that, what effect can such a complicated design bring?
From an objective point of view, there are at least two effects: the first is to scare away those light players, they will definitely persuade them to retire when they see this talent plate, and the retention rate of this game must be surprisingly low the next day; the second, It greatly extended the game time of those who stayed behind. I’m not going to discuss the first point. After all, not every team has the ability to make a beloved and innovative design to ensure retention; and on the second point, this is likely to be among all the games that humans have designed so far. The one that has gone the farthest, and has successfully operated for three years, so it also has great design reference value.
Extending the game time: Challenges from the Internet
For a contemporary game designer, how important is the length of game time control?
Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say how important it is. After all, the business model of all online games is essentially dependent on the time invested by players; now the word "network" in front of this sentence can even be removed. The business model of all contemporary games is extremely dependent on the time and attention invested by players, no matter what the business model of the game is.
You are a time-paid online game, and your income is directly dependent on the time invested by the players;
You are a free game that sells values to players. What you need is to make 100 hours of content, stretch the value planning to 2000 hours, and then sell the extra 1900 hours;
You are a free game that sells skins to players. Considering that the player's willingness to consume and display is proportional to the sunk cost he invested, you still need a lot of game time;
Even if you are a stand-alone game that is sold at a one-time fee, you need game time now. Do you need attention? Do you need to warm up the promotion? Do I need word-of-mouth and exposure in the first month of the game’s official release?
In the contemporary game market, all successful games, as those with vested interests, are greedily thirsting for players' time. From mobile casual games to battle games, and even live game sites, everyone is fighting for players' time, even if everyone knows that this means that the overall competitive environment is getting worse. Those who suffer the most are precisely those games that did not participate in this time arms race: this is the same as the real-world arms race. You will feel painful to keep up, and you will feel as if the whole world is doing it with you if you can’t keep up. enemy.
In the eyes of old-school game designers, extending the game time is, to a considerable extent, a malicious design strategy. If you have insufficient resources and delay the game, it will inevitably lead to a decline in the quality of the core experience and dull repetition-the resources of any game production team are always tense: whether you are a single individual work, three or five The independent team of a gun has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to move like a top 3A masterpiece of the army's expedition. Your resources are always insufficient and extremely tense. With such a tight resource, if you want to make a top-notch experience, you can only find a way to keep the game from being too long. Making 5 hours of cinematic or open world games is probably something that most of the 3A level manufacturers in the world can do, and it can even make the 5-hour process very intense and exciting; but if you want to extend the game to 100 hours to maintain all-round quality, rather than mechanical repetition, I am afraid that only the GTA5 team can do it.
However, in this era, if you intend to make your game profitable, you must find a way to think about the design based on the length of the game. This design based on game time is infiltrating every genre with unprecedented strength: nowadays, not only online games and networked multiplayer games that rely on game time for realizing money need to think about game time, even stand-alone games. Game time is a problem, because every game, even the top masterpiece, has to rely on game anchors for promotion. Every new masterpiece, whether it’s a pure online game, a multiplayer game, or a stand-alone game, is madly handed out a closed trial account or an early experience account before it is officially released or goes online, so that the game warm-up period can be fully obtained. Exposure rate.
But extending the game time is not enough. Numerical planning, which turns 100 hours into 2,000 hours, is still effective for online gamers, but it is rioting for mainstream gamers. There are a lot of open world games that try to expand the game time by programmatically generating the existing game content. The result is a large number of public relations crisis after the listing: this list can start from those GTA games in the early years. List to the nearest No Man's Sky and Mafia 3. Simply doing 10 tasks and then multiplying by 20 times is definitely not enough. We need better and more clever ways to extend the game time.
This is the challenge from the new Internet era: to use the same resources to make games that can be played for a longer period of time than before, without reducing the gaming experience too much. Game designers like us have to think of ways to extend the game time without reducing the game experience as much as possible... It's really hard for a clever woman to cook without rice!
At this time, the large number of design attempts made by POE seem to be very valuable: they have successfully maintained a stable life of more than three years by increasing the depth of the game and organizing the season on the basis of a basic stereotyped game: I though I don't know how much money this game has made for New Zealanders, but since the core user retention rate is so high, they have not added new payment points, I guess the game's revenue should be considerable. From the perspective of game designers, they are also undoubtedly the winners: many specific techniques in these designs have even been copied into their own games by the expansion of its direct competitor Diablo 3. In this sense, although the New Zealanders of POE may not have defeated Blizzard in business, they undoubtedly won as game designers.