Dev Interview: Fishing, TBL, DPK and Balance
Jun 29th, 2017
This week, we had a talk with our Head of Development (HOD) to find out more about a couple of updates that are coming to Tree of Savior in future patches, including PvP improvements, drop rate system changes and balance tweaks.
Please note that the updates mentioned here are still being tested and can differ from the actual content that is applied in iTOS. The dev team is, however, working to bring these updates into the game within one or two months, as soon as testing is complete. Any changes will be announced in advance through the patch notes. That said, go ahead and read the full interview below!
Staff: How are you, Mr. Head of Development? In our previous interview about renovating the city of Klaipeda, you and Maggi briefly talked about introducing fishing spots in-game, which is now becoming TOS’ first real “life” content. May I ask why you decided to go with fishing over other activities?
HOD: I’m a little hesitant to call it Tree of Savior’s first real “life” content, considering how simple the fishing function is. Our goal is to introduce a sort of relaxing farming activity to contrast with more intense types of gameplay that require higher degrees of concentration. We figured fishing was the right answer to that. We also considered mining, but we didn’t want to risk abusing anyone’s graphic cards, so we crossed that out for now.
Staff: Another question; you already made clear that you’re going to introduce a fishing function in the city of Klaipeda, but will there be fishing spots in other maps as well?
HOD: Adding a fishing spot to Klaipeda was our original plan, following the renovation of the city. Besides that, some players may be surprised to hear that we’re also adding one to Cobalt Forest, and in the future we have plans to continue introducing fishing spots in other maps with streams or lakes. We expect the items from each spot to be different from the ones you can fish in the city of Klaipeda. Also, right now fishing is completely automatic, but we’re considering the addition of a couple of simple manual controls. We don’t think it’ll be anything too complex, just simple actions that can give the player an advantage.
Staff: If you have plans to expand the fishing function, do you also want to develop other life contents for Tree of Savior? I would love to see a fishing spot in Goddess' Ancient Garden, by the way!
HOD: That’s what we’re hoping to do, yes. We believe a good game should be able to offer the player the chance to live out their dreams, so we want to delve into that idea for our next projects. We’ve considered things like sailing a yacht, car racing, exploring deserts, jungles, oceans; any challenge or adventure that’s hard to come by in the real world. We’ve also thought about letting the players do fun things like car tuning, farm tuning, island tuning (we’re just really into tuning)… Or, if you want to enter more into the realm of fantasy, open a fancy bar and invite celebrities to exclusive parties, collect designer clothing or watches, sports cars… Basically, we want this kind of experiences that aren’t always feasible in your everyday life to be more readily available in Tree of Savior.
Staff: In a way, the game is already letting us do that, I think. We get to become a Savior of a fallen kingdom and communicate with goddesses. That’s certainly an experience. I can’t wait to see what other dreams we’ll be able to live out in-game. Now, moving on to a different subject, after the big combat changes last May, the dev team announced the following:
For our PvP sports content, the Team Battle League, we’re focusing on improving synchronization issues between server/client and location, as well as server speed.
First, we want to change Team Battle League matches from the current 2:2 and 5:5 formats to a single 3:3 setup. We also intend to balance out a few skills and systems that hinder the concept of TBL as sports content.
Some of the aspects we’re thinking of including in this rebalance are the immunity to multiple target devices (knockdown, stun, freeze and other ailments that cause the inability to control your own character), the duration and effect of long buffs/debuffs, and the stat gaps between different items. Any changes we make related to these, however, will only apply to TBL or other battle-type contents played in similar instanced zones.
Finally, regarding TBL, we also feel inclined to add some improvements to the current point and ranking rewards.
I heard you’re doing some real progress on these updates, and I’m sure players are looking forward to seeing them applied. I’m excited about them too, I think I’ll finally bring out my mighty musket! Hahah. From what I saw, however, there was no news on the synchronization issues or the point and ranking rewards. Can you let us in on how that’s progressing?
HOD: For the location sync issues, we increased the processing speed of PvP-specific server machines, which slightly minimized the location differences that happen between client and server with high movement speeds. For one, we fixed the error that made characters appear in a different position after being knocked down or becoming incapable of combat. Our next goal is to monitor PvP controls in Team Battle League to create a better environment for GvG battles, which we also want to update. We aren’t done with Team Battle League improvements, though. We also have a patch ready with new point and ranking rewards, and we plan to introduce new timed costumes for top-rank players of the season.
Finally, we created new PvP rules regarding stacked mass control instruments, movement speeds and debuffs. These rules are going to be applied to characters equally in all enclosed combat areas like TBL and, of course, we’ll keep tweaking them as required by the circumstances.
Staff: Enclosed combat areas “like” TBL, you say…? Could that be a hint? In any case, there’s another subject I would like to discuss today. In kTOS, you recently announced that you're going to change the current DPK item drop rate system to a probability-based one. If I remember correctly, the DPK system was put in place to guarantee that an item gets dropped after a certain threshold is reached, whereas a probability-based system means that there’s a chance you won’t get the item even after farming for an entire day. I’m curious about the reason why you decided to remove DPK and go for this probability-based item drop system instead. Also, I would like to ask if a “personal” DPK was never an option you considered as a viable drop system.
HOD: Ultimately, for a system like non-personal DPK to thrive you need an environment in which you have several players farming at the same time. If only one or two players are hunting in the same zone, the advantages of DPK (regular and consistent supply of items in the server) are lost, and it inevitably creates tension and rivalry between the players. Because of this, we can see why so many of our players spoke out in favor of a “personal” DPK counting system. The problem is that Tree of Savior is serviced all over the world on Steam, kTOS and other local servers, and in each of those the farming environment is different. Changing to a personal DPK system wouldn’t solve the fundamental issues of DPK itself, and besides, your personal kill count rewards already come from the Adventure Journal. So all in all, we felt that a probability-based item drop system was more appropriate for the game.
Now, after moving from a fixed count DPK system to a top-down one, and now to a probability-based system, I’m sure the players will be wondering, “So what’s the new drop rate?” It’s not our policy to reveal the exact drop rates of each item, but we ran thorough simulations to ensure that the items weren’t dropping less than before, and then we set the drop rate a little higher than that. One thing we did was double the supply of Monster Gems, which under the DPK system was rather low. For Hunting Grounds cubes, we added ⅛ pieces of those cubes to the Grounds so that players can get items from them more frequently.
Another thing I would like to mention is that, as pointed out by many of our players before, a lot of the fields in Tree of Savior often get ignored after the quests are complete or they’re “skipped” altogether. We’re only trading DPK for a probability-based system now, but we have other things in mind to improve the fun aspect of farming in fields, which we hope will help bring more life into those forgotten maps.
Staff: It’s certainly sad to see so many of those beautiful maps go unnoticed; good to hear that you’re working to change that. Now, another subject that’s always been much discussed is balance. According to your latest kTOS test server balance patch, any additional SPR a Pardoner gets from stat-enhancing buffs is going to be excluded from the total SPR counted when opening a shop. Would you like to explain the reasoning behind this decision?
HOD: There was some lack of foresight from our dev team when creating the big combat changes earlier this year, in that we didn’t consider all the possible ways in which Pardoner buffs could be affected. This led to certain shop buffs becoming powerful enough to visibly affect the game. Overall, we wanted to adjust the balance of Pardoner shop buffs in a way that doesn’t make them vastly superior to Priest buffs, but without taking too much from the convenience or performance of general Pardoner buffs. We’re still considering other changes to Pardoner shop buffs, but we’ll announce more details after we have something more concrete.
Staff: I see what you’re saying. Hopefully everyone playing a Pardoner will understand, too. If possible, I also want to ask about the other contents of your latest balance patch, which sounded very interesting. From what I saw, it was divided into 3 categories: 1) increased overheat, 2) stacking skills and 3) other changes.
Let’s start with overheat, then. I’m sure an increase in overheat is good news to anyone using those types of skills, but I have a question. Consider a skill that can be used in 3 times and has 15 seconds of cooldown time. Using the skill only one time will still require 15 seconds for it to be restored back to the full 3 hits. If each hit is worth 5 seconds of cooldown (considering the total is 15 seconds), why doesn’t the skill restore 1 hit every 5 seconds?
HOD: We at the dev team can see how having to wait for a period of time that’s the same as the entire cooldown of a skill to restore a single hit is not the most reasonable option. We’ve been meaning to tackle this inconvenience for a long time now, but I guess it was always pushed back by bigger, more urgent issues. We aren’t ready to apply the “3 hits / 15 secs = 1 hit / 5 secs” rule you suggested just yet, but we are considering restoring the hit count after the skill’s total cooldown time has passed when one or more hits have been used.
Staff: So you don’t know when that’s going to change yet, then? Well, I hope you have a chance to work on it soon. Would you like to comment on 2) now? Your notes state that you’re going to allow players to stack certain skills with the same skills of other players. You know, every time there’s another Plague Doctor in my party I always feel like they’re “stealing my spot”, so I’m glad that’s going to change. You’re not allowing all debuffs to stack, however. Both the Fletcher’s Broadhead and the Highlander’s Crosscut can inflict Bleeding, but I didn’t see any mentions to Crosscut in your plans. Is that intended?
HOD: Those plans concern only skills where DOT (damage over time) applies, so shared debuffs are not included. Black Death Steam, for example, is an attack that only Plague Doctors have, and its DOT merely borrows from the common debuff structure; in reality, it deals damage equivalent to other attack skills. The Highlander’s Crosscut, on the other hand, is simply a skill with an added Bleeding debuff, the same way some skills can have Stun, for example. The Fletcher’s Broadhead is a skill where the DOT comes in the shape of the Bleeding debuff, making it similar to Black Death Steam or the Wugushi’s Needle Blow.
Staff: So the difference is that those skills are damage-dealing skills, but they happen to be structured like a debuff. I see. I won’t bother you much longer, but I have one final set of questions about your balancing plans. First, what do you intend to achieve with your next balance patch? In other words, what direction can we expect TOS balance patches to take in the future? How far along do you think you are regarding your ultimate balance goals? Finally, how much more do you want to change with future patches?
HOD: After the big combat changes, PvE difficulty was reduced by a lot. It’s hard to tell where the next patches will take this aspect of the game, since our goal is to follow whatever needs are felt at the moment, whether that implies a more difficult or an easier gameplay. What I can tell you is that we did consider the connection to future new regions and contents when applying the big changes, so we don’t predict anything too drastic.
We haven’t reached all our balancing goals yet, of course, even considering the next couple of updates we have in store. We have a summon behavior improvement patch that’s already been developed and is now awaiting review. We are also working on a series of other aspects of the game, including more class-specific issues. One thing I want to say is that we hope players don’t think we’re done with a class after it’s been patched one or two times. We’re always looking to improve class balance.
And lastly, I can’t tell exactly how many balance patches will make it into the game in the near future, but our plan is to keep working on them until new classes arrive.
Staff: Ooh, new classes *_* I would love to hear more about them, but I can tell you’re busy so I won’t take any more of your time. Thank you so much for this interview.
HOD: No problem. Thank you to our players for reading!