Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011: One Player's Opinion on What We've Seen

An Honest Critique of Some Changes in 2011 -

I'm usually not too critical of how Fiesta is run, the decisions that have been made to further the game, and the changes both good or bad that we experience.  I'm typically supportive of OutSpark and I usually take some time before rushing to judge any changes that arrive on our doorstep.  I try to see their side, understand why some changes are made and why other's aren't.

With that being said, and with some time to absorb the changes we've experienced in 2011, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what's been going on, improved upon, what didn't work, and any thoughts or suggestions I may have for 2012.  Needless to say, I love Fiesta.  I wouldn't dedicate myself to running a blog about Fiesta if I didn't find the game enjoyable.  I wouldn't have leveled as many characters as I have, nor invested as much money as I have if I didn't relish my time in Isya.

So where do we begin?  How about with the most controversial change we experienced:
Bind On Equip:
Bind On Equip (or BOE) basically places a lock on any armor or weapon piece that you equip.  BOE does not affect all equippable items, but it does affect much of the end game content.  Starting from some of the level 95 sets on up to the level 105 Secret Laboratory and Lucky House Weapons and Shields, BOE rears its ugly head.

There is no reason other than for profit that this "feature" was released in June.  We never had anything like this before, nor did the items they decided to bind have this limitation when they were first introduced into the game.  While some items from Leviathan's Nest were instantly bound to whomever picked them up, the items acquired from Secret Laboratory were able to be drop traded (meaning you'd have to trust the other player enough to have one of you drop the item and let the other person grab it as you also exchange the gold for it).  According to OutSpark, drop trading was never supposed to occur, but since it was there, the players took advantage of this mechanic.  We also received no warning of this feature being implemented causing many armor sets to be locked onto other players accounts who were borrowing them.

In October, we received a "solution" to the BOE dillema, Binding Reset Resin.  Some players found the item prematurely by scouring the store's pages and there was an immediate outcry over the intial price listed, 14,000sc ($20 USD).  The GMs were quick to acknowledge that the price wasn't definite and would be evaluated.  Upon release, the Reset Resin was priced at 8400sc ($12 USD).  As you would expect, there was still outrage that the playerbase would have to pay real-life money simply for the choice to sell their old pieces of equipment.

Fatal's Take:  Personally, I've never purchased a Reset Resin and I'm hoping to never have to.  With now five characters at prestige (SharpShooter, Warlock, Wizard, HolyKnight, Gladiator) and two more approaching (90 future-Spectre, 89 future-Ranger), you would think this would affect me greatly.  Thankfully, so far, it hasn't.  Currently, the only piece of equipment that I have enhanced that is BOE is a +10 Storas (Lab) Wand.  No other gear I own that is bound has been enhanced.  I honestly hate this feature.  While I don't typically sell too much gear that has been enhanced in fear that I may have an alt someday that will re-use this piece, at least I still have that option.  With BOE, I don't without draining my wallet.

False Fixes (Mob Populations):
This was something that's just come to my attention recently, but for some reason nobody else seems to make a fuss.  In November, we received a patch that increased mob populations for the 9x-10x areas.  What we saw was a dramatic change in Swamp of Dawn's mob placement.

With this new enhancement, the map basically got flipped.  The hardest mobs congregated near the Burning Rock gate, while the weaker mobs were relocated to the Alberstoll Ruins gate.  While I can see a little bit of thought in this, that if you scrolled to AR before taking off for SOD, it was a bit easier, however the natural progression of maps and mob spawn points got out of whack.

On December 13th, the map reverted back, unannounced, to the most recent iteration of Swamp of Dawn. 

Fatal's Take:  A lot of players were relieved when this happened, myself included, but what about the promised change?  We were told that we'd experience denser mob populations, but now that the mobs went back to where they were, where's our population increase?

False Fixes (Leviathan's Nest):
With that same patch that adjusted SOD mob placement, we were also told that we'd see a decrease in difficulty of Leviathan's Nest.  But did we really?

Fatal's Take:  OutSpark and OnsOnSoft are fairly notorious for telling us that a change had occurred, but won't detail what exactly that change affected.  In the case of Leviathan's Nest, I saw no change.  Recently, the OS GMs have been preaching "transparency", but when false fixes like these arrive, why won't they throw us a bone?

Archer Fixes:
This is a particular sore spot for me as my highest level character is a SharpShooter.  While I knew full well of some of the limitations of the class (and subclass) before I started seriously leveling her, the rate and quality of changes that we've received is pretty poor and barely negligible.

Some of the highlights: 

"True" attack rates on Archer weapons at any distance.  Archers were plagued by the "only-one-arrow-on-screen-at-a-time" issue where a second arrow couldn't be fired until the first arrow hit the target.  When auto-attacking from 13m away, you can see how this would be problematic.

Fatal's Take:  While this was a nice fix, I'm still not convinced it truly works or it just didn't have the impact that we had hoped for.

Animation Changes.  While aesthetically this is a welcome change, it really slowed down the spam rate of the Archer's AOEs.  With a longer draw and longer animation, the time between casts increased greatly.  Archers AOEs were already fairly weak, but now they're weak AND slower.

Fatal's Take:  A change that really wasn't necessary.  To make matters worse for the SharpShooter subclass, the animation on the Bow AOEs takes longer than the XBow ones meaning Rangers have another advantage besides damage, kiting Attack Rate.

Additional Damage added to Passives.  This helped pretty-up our stat windows, but the increase in damage to the passives really didn't equate to much.

Fatal's Take:  Archer's tossed a bone.  A rotten bone with no marrow.

Increased DMG Empowerment to Aimed Shot and Power Shot.  I don't remember how much greater the increase was, but it wasn't game changing by any means.

Fatal's Take:  Another bone with little meat.  It would have been nice to eliminate the cast times on these for the SharpShooter subclass as I've suggested so many times before.  As it stands now, it's still better for a SharpShooter to spam auto-attack than waste time using skills with drawn out cast times.  How does that even make sense?

Multi-Blood Shot finally corrected.  MBS's DOT effect finally got classified correctly as a Bleed instead of a disease.  For two years we've been plagued by this skill not having the correct DOT.  It was finally fixed.  Unfortunately, this DOT does the least amount of additional DMG, 69 DMG/sec.

Fatal's Take:  It was about time.  I'm not a programmer, but I have taken some classes back in college.  I really don't see how a simple change to this skill took so long to correct.  It would be nice if the skill became spammable along with the other two AOEs and also saw a bump up in the DOT damage output.  69 DMG/sec on a mob with 50,000HP just doesn't do much y'know?

Nature's Aim Party Buff Introduced.  This skill is still not without its problems, but it was a nice touch.  Archers have been pleading for some type of self/party buff that would increase their value in parties.  Nature's Aim increases the party's Aim and Evasion.

Fatal's Take:  We got a buff, but as Obi-Wan would say, "These aren't the buffs you're looking for."  First off, the buff itself only lasts a few minutes.  With the cooldown being longer than the buff's duration, it's a pain.  Fiddling with the empowerments allows you to recast the buff before it expires, but again, it's something that has to be recasted far too frequently.  A nice buff to have when you remember to use it.  Would be nice if the duration were just bumped up to 30 minutes or 1 hour and be done with it.  Some players that have empowered this skill are finding that the skill's CD gets bugged when they login/map change.

Ranger Changes.  Rangers were fortunate to see a few changes that definitely help them out.  First off, Rangers received several new variants of their Entrap skill.  Depending on the tier of the skill, Entrap now had AOE status effects (Blind, Slow, Bleed, Stun).  They also recieved a nice boost to Hide's success rate making it 100% effective.

Fatal's Take:  Giving the Ranger's the ability to Blind, albeit in the form of a trap, and an AOE one to boot, was really a slap in the face to the SharpShooters.  Blind Shot was one of the "signature" skills of the SharpShooter subclass.  I really didn't appreciate this change, but I'm happy for the Rangers to at least get shown some love.

SharpShooter Changes.  SharpShooters saw a couple of changes to Detect and to Blind Shot.  Previously, Detect only uncovered Rangers, it was changed to also be able to ground flying, Metamorphosed Warlocks.  One problem with this is that it's difficult to even see the Warlock flying up in the air much less be able to successfully target them using the AOE reticle.  Blind Shot effects went from a blinding white screen that was more like a flash bang grenade to the now black haze that you see today.  Your victim's Aim is also decreased for the short duration of the skill.

Fatal's Take:  I still think Detect should be a passive that uncovers Rangers only, or gives you the ability to see and target hidden Rangers.  Warlocks using bird-mode should take damage from the Archer AOEs.  You'd think arrows falling from the sky could hit that fat bird no?  Blind Shot really needs an increase in duration to be more effective.  With the new black haze effect, the victim can still see thier character.  A common, yet effective technique for SSs in PvP was to Blind then Neutralize (disarm) their opponent during the fight.  But now the victim can easily see their character weilding, or not weilding, their weapon.

Overall Takeaway from Archer Fixes:  Honestly, I think the class itself just needs a reboot.  None of the changes that we've received have remotely leveled the playing field in PvP.  While Archers are fast leveling after 51, they slow down tremendously later as they just don't receive the party invites that other classes enjoy.  Take the class down, retool it, and relaunch it.  Give every Archer a full stat and full skill reset once the relaunch occurs.  A SharpShooter should basically be akin to a ranged Gladiator minus the HP/DEF, make it so.

Party EXP Distribution:
While well intended, I don't think this new system had quite the affect the Developer was hoping for.  Instead of newbies begging for powerlevels in the lower leveled towns (which still occurs btw), they've shifted to the higher level maps where their EXP gain is tremendous.  Gone is the old +30 level limit to mob EXP gain and with it reigned in a new form of powerleveling.

Fatal"s Take:  The GMs have stated that they are still evaluating this change and that a fix may be in the works at some point.  However, when this patch was implemented, we also witnessed an overall reduction of mob EXP even while soloing.  This change has not been corrected despite being acknowleged in November when we received a serverwide EXP boost of 24%.  Will this related issue just be swept under the rug?  Is the "corrective" EXP boost still ongoing?  Was our +50% EXP boost in November truly 50% or was it simply the 24% correction + a 26% boost?

Video Player Earnings:
This was a great feature that was implemented this past year.  It gave all players the chance to acquire some cash shop items simply for watching and rating some commercials. 

Fatal's Take:  I love this.  I've used a ton of one-day items so far and continue to use the video player to earn views for redemption later.  The assortment of items in there is decent considering they're basically free.  I'd like to see some new stuff, but the stuff in there presently is fine unchanged also.

Collector's Packs:
With the start of Autumn, OutSpark released "Collector's Packs" in the store.  Basically Collector's Packs were megabundles featuring everything that was newly released in the previous months.  While the huge pricetag scared away many buyers, overall it was a good deal if you could afford that much SC upfront.

Fatal's Take:  I liked the packs.  Personally, I never bought any because I find zero value in cash shop pets and they were also included in abundance in these bundles.  Also included were multitudes of permanent mounts.  With the inability to gift these mounts, they're basically a waste since I already have multiple mounts on each character on this account.  I was disappointed to see no packs for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Iron Box Release:
The Iron Box cashshop item was finally released.  This allowed the players to access the third and fourth pages of their storage permanently.  However, the access was limited to the one character that activated the Iron Box.

Fatal's Take:  As someone that does a lot of productions and hordes a lot of gear, this was a godsend.  I took advantage of the Iron Box/Iron Case BOGO.  While it's a bit of a pain to have to switch characters to access my third and fourth pages, it's understandable, no complaints.

Missing Decomp/Comp Recipes:
For years, we've been missing about 80% of the T5 Comp/Decomp Alchemy recipes.  This made some alchemic skills a bit problematic when trying to obtain materials. 

Fatal's Take:  With capped productions, I had been waiting for this for ages.  Still don't quite understand why it took so long.  I'm happy it's here though, now just a matter of tracking down all the recipes.

The Forge Discounts and Availability of 10k/25k Weapon Skins:
Weapon Skin availability is another thorn in the sides of many players.  Presently, when Weapon Skins are offered for sale in the store, only the 3k durability variants are available.  Gone are the ability to purchase the 10k or 25k versions.  Instead, these types have been only available in James' Forge.  Basically, the player needs to gamble their SC on the hopes of acquiring the particular skin they want.

From time to time, OS has offered discounts on Forge Credits, however, whenever they've run this promotion, there were no Weapon Skins in the Forge to be won!

Fatal's Take:  I, along with just about everyone else, would greatly appreciate having at least the 10k skins available again in the store.  As it stands now, a player has a roughly 1:44 chance of getting the particular skin that they want, not to mention that skin may only be the 3k.  The Forge is loaded with other items like 50%/Perfect T1-T5 Enhancement Stones, Repair Kits, and the Skins of weapons you may never use.  At least once a quarter, please release the 10k skins into the store?

1111 Sale:
On November 11, 2011, OutSpark ran an "1111" sale to commemorate the day.  A ton of items in the cash shop were made available at an 1111sc price point. 

Fatal's Take:  This was probably one of the highlights of the cash shop in 2011.  Needless to say, I spent quite a bit taking advantage of the huge deals on some of the items offered.  Some bundles were originally priced at around 6k and discounted deeply to 1111.  Thanks OS for giving back to the players on this one.

Obviously this isn't a complete list, I left out some major changes like: Lucky House, Hard Mode Raid Bosses, "The Rollback", the additional quests from 7x-9x, and the release of the Tricksters.  Feel free to comment, agree/disagree, I ask that you try to keep it civil.  My apologies for the wall of text, kudos to anyone that actually read it all!


  1. Always a pleasure reading your blog entries.

    Unfortunately I'm not so forgiving of the Outspark 'gang'. In short they are only interested in SC sales. Nothing more, nothing less. I am from the UK and perhaps a little more cynical than our friends across the pond, but the 1111 sale had nothing to do with giving back to the players, but everything to do with 10 times more sales and making a bucket of cash.

    Moving on to game gripes, basic enhancing i.e, +3 rings now regularly uses 10+ elrues, production skills regularly now freeze and lag like hell and in game inflation is out of control.

    The in game inflation will eventually kill the game in the longer term. Already members of our small guild have 'given the game a rest' because of silly pricing. The silly pricing will probably only get worst as enhancing is now for fools and sc purchases are a rip off.

    Don't get me wrong I like this game (have characters ranging from 103 (ss, lol) right down to the early 20's, but I do not feel any real passive for the game from the Outspark lot and it shows.

    Perhaps you should try and find out if the Outspark CEO actually plays this game - I bet it is a no.

    In the shorter term perhaps Outspark should worry what the release of Diablo III will do to its player base.

  2. Passive. lol. Meant Passion. Too many sleepless nights here...

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