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 Post subject: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:10 am 
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Case 1

There are usually only 95-135 characters in-game at any given time, yet,

"I am sorry, my stables are full."

This situation is NEA, and generated by an NEA player-base: if there weren't an NEA number of high-level Tamers, there wouldn't be such a high demand for stable-slots, hence there would be no market, hence there would be no market-cornering to buy/sell slots by all and sundry, whether they are, or are not, themselves Tamers.

NEA result: any new/returning player can not stable packhorse(s) after mining, or stable mount(s) in order to deep-sea fish for a few hours on his/her ship.

During T2A-proper it simply did not occur that all-stable-slots-in-all-towns were full, not on any shard: each player had one account, GMing Taming was both incredibly PITA and time-consuming, and UO itself had simply not been around long enough for enough players to GM enough Tamers, nor to tame enough "worthwhile" pets; there was no stable-slot market during T2A-proper; that there is such a market here at UOSA is NEA, and creates a huge impediment to shard play-utility, to the catastrophic detriment of player-interest and population growth.

NB: five years ago, I played UOSA for months and months and months, and I never, ever, saw this message (and the shard, then, enjoyed a much-larger average player-population); from July '98 to November '99, playing primarily on Chesapeake (but with characters on many shards), I never, ever, saw this message.


Case 2

"You have nothing I would be interested in."

This is something else that is related specifically to the size and style of the player population: with a low population, and almost no "newbies", shopkeepers simply do not generate enough 'normal custom' in-game to operate in the manner in which they have been designed; when they run out of money, they no longer buy.

NEA result: Obviously, no player can sell to a shopkeeper that will not buy; new/returning players who are frustrated because loot is worthless are more likely to leave than stay, immediately and irrevocably; simple as that, "this shard sucks, bye", no second thought(s).

NB: I do remember this happening, occasionally, both here at UOSA five years ago, and on OSI in '98-'99; however, it was the temporary exception discovered on a lone shop-keeper, not the permanent condition of all shopkeepers on the shard (Jewelers seem to be the worst for this, here and now).

So, to the matter,

I do not assign any blame or responsibility to the existing player-base: I merely point-out two glaringly-NEA 'shard shopkeeper conditions'; indeed, it is almost irrelevant that these conditions have been brought-about by the surviving player-base (it has more to do with UOSA's age and account-policies, and I'm just as culpable as any other player, wherein any player-culpability can be identified).

These conditions will continue to ruin any/all hopes for shard growth unless/until fixes are applied.

I really want to open discussion on 'fixes' that could be deemed both viable, and acceptable (and, hopefully, without placing too much burden on staff); the more EAish the fix (for either NEA-player-environment-condition), the better.

The NPC shopkeepers have existed in UO longer than any of us: when they begin to fail in their function(s), we should pay attention to them.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:49 am 
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+1

If we are going to be era accurate we need to artificially push the "the way it was." in a manner that isn't too super imposing.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:42 am 
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As a community we can do something about the stable issue.

I suggest camping common stable spots like Britain, Skara, or Minoc, when a tamer comes to claim some pets they usually claim all of them and stable back the ones they did not need. A few times I've seen tamers claim 50+ critters, so at this point take advantage of the opportunity and steal as many spots as possible.

Offer to sell the spots back at obscene prices (20k/ea), and wait for the tamer to attempt to gate the pets out. Follow the tamer and proceed to kill his pets/him. After this proceed to call them noobs until they rage log.

If enough of the shard helps out, I'm sure the stable slots will quickly open up again.

There is no need to involve staff, we have plenty of rats and purple potions to deal with stable hoarders.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:52 am 
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UO Second Age era accuracy is based on mechanical accuracies, not social engineering the experiences you had when you played (something that isn't possible in the first place unless you have the blueprints to a time machine of course).

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:21 pm 
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Soma, haha, I admire your mode of thinking, but your suggestions would not remove the existence of the 'stables problem', merely transfer control of the exploit from one group of players to another. Still, it's kind of nice to imagine ...

Faust! I'm glad to hear from you!

BTW, true believers, there's a "TL;DR", below.

Faust wrote:
UO Second Age era accuracy is based on mechanical accuracies, not social engineering the experiences you had when you played (something that isn't possible in the first place unless you have the blueprints to a time machine of course).


Naturally, you make the very-necessarily nice distinction; thank you. However, these "mechanical accuracies" you describe have been cast aside (I am not trying to suggest, "capriciously, or with disregard, or with ill-will"), when UOSA's player-account policies were determined.

A single OSI subscription entitled a player to one account, not three; I don't recall any OSI 'stance' on multiboxing, but that was virtually impossible under the technological limitations that had existed in-era; the ancient Romans did not legislate the acquisition and ownership of firearms, no more than they negotiated treaties limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons; times, and technology, change, and policy must adapt, accordingly.

The difficulties currently afflicting this shard are, in large part, entirely due to UOSA's policies on those two issues (accounts and multi-boxing, not firearms and nuclear weapons ...); this is exacerbated by the 'real-life condition' that UOSA has continued, ongoing, for 7-8 years now (a lifespan achievement inconceivably considered into any aspect of the original design); of course, "I'm sorry, but all my stables are full"; how could it be otherwise?

NEA policy + "NEA passage-of-time" -> NEA "social-engineering problem" -> need for (if NEA, so be it) a fix to make the shard run as if the "social-engineering problem" does not exist at all.

There's an old thread here, somewhere, 2012ish, wherein is described a 'dispute' between two players: one player's character had been cussed-out over "stealing" the other's stable slot(s), which had been "paid for"; this "social-engineering problem" has been plaguing this shard for several years, now; hence, the existing player-base has clearly demonstrated that it has no interest in exercising self-regulation (beyond Soma's suggestion, above, of course, begging everyone's pardon).

Postulate: way back in 2010 when I had originally joined (or, if I had joined earlier), let's say I had immediately raced to each-and-every stable, purchased hundreds-upon-hundreds of rabbits/cats, stabled them all, and then extorted every Tamer/Miner/Rider who came by, insisting they buy "my" stables slots.

My expectation is that I would have been quickly and summarily banned for exploiting shard mechanics. However, collectively, this is exactly what the existing player-base is doing, and has been doing for several years, now.

The current situation is, indeed, akin to mass terrorism-by-extortion, a DDOSA perpetrated against UOSA that excludes new/returning players: hmmm, might be time for the administration to (re)consider the implications-upon-era-accuracy of the shard's NEA-account/multiboxing policies ...

At this juncture, I want to be clear, and (re)iterate all of the following:

I don't want any player(s) banned; I don't want any kind of "only 15 (or whatever number) pets-per-account" policy imposed; I don't want UOSA to recant its account/multiboxing permissions; I don't want infinite stables slots for everyone; I don't want NPC shopkeepers (individually) to never run out of money; foremost, I don't want Kaivan, Boomland and Anarcho hiring assassins to rub me out, because I just dumped a tractor-trailor-load of tedious work into their "in" trays ...

Also, in the interest of clarity, and keeping everything in its proper perspective, vis a vis shard-to-player "loyalty" (and vice versa): no player who is hoarding stables-slots is doing so "to make UOSA better"; rather, entirely the opposite, if only to "mess with The Man".

Lo, those many years ago (2010ish), I had made a suggestion that some might remember: that a notion I called, "thematic era-accuracy" be invoked whenever the administration makes disposition on rules/mechanics changes/corrections; I certainly can not claim to have anticipated the 'stables problem', but I don't think I am being entirely vain if I observe validation, here, of that old recommendation.

TL;DR

UOSA policies are largely responsible for (the severity of) these issues: shard-to-player allowances/concessions have created conflicts with EA-accurate game mechanics, and a fix is required.

Is the following doable, and/or acceptable?

Each account that has 0 pets stabled 'normally', anywhere, will possess 3 dedicated/otherwise-untouchable "stables slots" (perhaps an "Animal Trainer's Apprentice" NPC could be added to each stable to facilitate this?): under this scheme, each account would have ONLY one or the other, but retain the facility to change between the two, if required/desired:

1. however-many 'normal' stables slots, as can be acquired from the existing 'Animal Trainer' NPCs; or,

2. up-to-3-total-per-account 'guaranteed/proprietary' stables slots, available from a new 'Animal Trainer's Apprentice' NPC.

Any account that has pets stabled with one type of NPC will be excluded from stabling any pets with the other type.

This is the message I want to see from the Animal Trainer's Apprentice:

"I'm sorry, magnificent and wonderful tamer, if you wish to stable your horse with me, you'll first have to claim all of your other animals from the real Animal Trainers over there. I dare say, they are a little upset with you."

Regarding the "impecunious-shopkeepers" issue,

I firmly believe this requires a fix, in the interest of promoting shard growth, but it's going to need to be a behind-the-scenes fix, and only a mild one. Otherwise, I'm not familiar-enough with the behind-the-scenes mechanics to suggest anything specific; maybe some means of diverting (only a portion of) NPC-mage-reagent-sales to other NPC shopkeepers (only under certain conditions, i.e. the activities of a larger and more-diverse population should not invoke this 'boost') ...?

That the issues I've described do indeed exist is self-evidentiary: if NPCs don't function, new/returning players can't play; player's who can't play, won't.

Let's roll-up our sleeves and help make UOSA healthy again: we can at least try.

SS


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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:31 pm 
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I've spoken on this issue in the past but it bears repeating here: The fact that we have to allow multiple potential accounts per person, and multiple connections per IP address is a fundamental issue of running a free server. There is no adequate system short of a payment system (which we can't do) to map players to accounts, so we allow players to have up to a certain number of accounts and no more (players are free to have less if they want). We must also limit the number of connections per IP address, which was not done on OSI servers, as a result of having no method of mapping players to accounts.

In short, these are necessary functions of running a free server, while modifications of stables are not, and modifying mechanics in order to make them approximate the behavior that they had on OSI servers is a futile exercise in guessing.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:04 pm 
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The issue of vendors not buying what you're selling can usually be helped by saying "vendor buy" when they run out of money. For some reason it puts more gold in their pockets and you can turn around and start selling again. Note that this trick only works once though. You can't keep repeating it over and over during the same visit, so there is some sort of time mechanics involved as well. Sultan of swing made a post about this a while back here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=59872

As far as stables go, it definitely sucks the way it is right now. I have nothing more to add to what you've already stated. My best solution with current game mechanics is checking every day or two and picking up the slots I need (I never find myself in need of more than 3 these days). The 7 day decay on stable slots makes them more common than IDOCs. :) Thanks for sharing your ideas. I hope this post helps you if nothing gets changed.


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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:54 pm 
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Markus, thank you for providing the tip: I'll have to do some checking, but this alone might achieve enough that an 'actual fix' is not required: the designed mechanics will function adequately on their own once a large-enough and/or diverse-enough player-base returns to UOSA; can someone perhaps incorporate it into a playguide, so that it can be readily available to new/returning players?

Thank you, Kaivan, for declaring the stance of the administration, and for providing the link: it is informative.

I'll repeat that I do not wish for UOSA to recant any of its policies regarding player-accounts and/or multiboxing: to the extent that it is "part of the price of doing business", then it is exactly that; it isn't the issue.

Without antagonism,

when it (in)directly results in something else (this second thing, itself, being otherwise-mechanically-sound) becoming broken/exploited, then the requirement to nullify the breach/exploit immediately must necessarily be added to "part of the price of doing business"; this is exactly the sort of thing which I had in mind when I conceived the notion of "thematic era accuracy"; of course, the more "invisible" the fix, in any situation, the better.

I very much hope that some serious consideration be given, by administration and players alike, regarding my proposal for an "Animal Trainer's Apprentice" NPC, as described above: off-the-cuff, and unpolished, as it is, the basic notion will serve to nullify the problem, but not interfere with Tamers'/others' use of 'regular' stables slots as a commodity, should players persist in their desire to do so; futile, or not, there's little "guessing" to be attached to the proposal.

I wish to say one more thing, while I am replying directly to input from a member of the administration:

I may be perceiving things that aren't there, but I feel that I divine a reluctance from the administration to "let the genie out of the bottle": this reluctance is perfectly understandable, and responsible to the goals of the shard.

Unfortunately, in this specific circumstance, it is completely in error: the administration already let the genie out, a long time ago; don't feign obliviousness; don't try to stuff the genie back in; just take away its powers.

What I declared earlier, still stands. I'll abbreviate it: broken mechanics = broken game; broken game = 0 players.

An attempt can be made to revitalize UOSA, by un-breaking game-mechanics that UOSA itself broke (incidentally, but that's irrelevant), or heads can be thrust back in sand, and UOSA will continue to struggle, and likely just die.

I'd rather it didn't die.

And, apologies for at least a little of 'my tone'.

SS


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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:15 pm 
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Since I've already spoken at length about this in the past, I'm not going to make any more significant statements here, as you can read my previous responses for an idea of my position on these things. I will simply say that throughout the years when this particular discussion has come up, the argument has mainly boiled down to the idea of sticking to the mechanics, versus molding the mechanics to attempt to fit the intended "feel" of the game. In that, the administrative position has always been that the mechanics are the only reliable thing that can be reliably replicated, and anything else is foolhardy to attempt to accomplish.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 12:12 am 
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Hi Kaivan,

at this point, the administration might not be capable of believing that I do not wish to antagonize it over this issue ...

Oh boy ... I'll try to come at it from a slightly different direction:

Without undue prejudice, and with appreciation for everything the administration does, and has done, to make UOSA available to all of us players,

In the link you provided above, many, many examples are identified, in which the administration seemingly has chosen to "cherry-pick" its devotion to Error-Accuracy: specifically, a great number of in-place NEA mechanics are identified, but justified by administration as being, "necessary", without acknowledging any need to correct for all of the otherwise-EA-mechanics that are/were broken by the introduction of the NEA mechanics.

Arbitration of all such matters must remain ultimately with the administration but, concerning any instance wherein the administration seemingly insists on contradicting its own policies, I feel compelled to expose the hypocrisy:

UOSA, it seems to me, will happily abandon its Era-Accuracy-mandate any ol' time, especially when it will break the Era-Accuracy of something else, but never, ever, ever, in any situation in which it might fix something that had been broken in the first instance.

I find this revelation deeply disturbing.

For what it's worth, Kaivan, thank you for continuing to contribute candidly on this matter.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:59 am 
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I'm perfectly willing to explain what our position is on any of the examples you have a problem with. I've already pointed out 3 such inconsistencies with mechanics that are necessary to running a free server, and a fourth example is discussed in that thread. Beyond that, I think that it's important to consider that the focus should be on mechanics and not on policy.

Edit: Regarding our unwillingness to modify mechanics because certain mechanics simply can't be followed, I feel that it is deeply flawed to presume that since we can't follow one set of mechanics, and that inability has an effect on some secondary set of mechanics, that we should modify those secondary mechanics to compensate for the change brought about by the initial mechanics that we couldn't follow. This position ignores the fact that those secondary mechanics have an interrelationship between other tertiary mechanics, and that modification of those secondary mechanics will have an effect on those mechanics, requiring us to modify those mechanics as well (this particular issue of tightly interconnected mechanics would likely cause us to change most mechanics to compensate). Compounding on this issue is the problem that each set of mechanics that we would be changing would essentially be a shot in the dark in terms of effectively "repairing" a closely related mechanic, while having a significant ripple effect through other directly and indirectly related mechanics. This leaves us with an extremely high chance of making things worse each time that we play with the mechanics to obtain the right "feel" instead of fixing anything, because the right feel is a very subjective thing with respect to the overall behavior of the mechanics.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:13 pm 
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Thank you, Kaivan, for continued interest and candor, and for offering a little transparency: you've offered us a 'peek behind the curtains', as it were, and I appreciate the consideration.

I had always expected that there would be a significant danger of 'contamination' (changes in one system cascading into other systems to cause unforeseen, and unforeseeable, effects) attached to any style of technical fix; I, however, possess no means of identifying/quantifying/evaluating such dangers, and your input has supplied much.

You also offer strong and valid argumentation against "messing with stuff". Again, thank you. And, of course, I agree that certain, previously suggested 'trite' fixes (i.e. increase stables slots), simply will not work.

I apologise to the extent that I seemed to suggest that the administration has demonstrated a perverse selection-bias regarding the application of Era Accuracy: such a strong suggestion is too severe, but I felt that there was a point to be made; I do not entirely retract the criticism, but I am sympathetic to the circumstances of the staff, particularly the difficulties associated with simply keeping UOSA up-and-running.

I would not consider this topic closed, yet, but I am very satisfied that we have gathered sufficient foundational material: mainly, I would wish that this topic remain open for continued observation and suggestion;

hopefully, with the acquisition of sufficient material, some 'things' can be coalesced into acceptable, economical, invisible solution(s).

As circumstances stand, at his point in the discussion, in my opinion,

Case 2, "Impecunious Shopkeepers", can be considered more-or-less closed (in light of the tip supplied, above, by Markus), as soon as this informational tidbit is incorporated into some sort of playguide, or other location where it would be easily accessible, and/or presented rather obviously, to new/returning players.

Case 1, "Stables Slots Hoarding", has been adequately identified, and with ample response from the administration regarding UOSA's POV, powers, and limitations. Otherwise,

[*]Soma has suggested that rest of the community "Occupy Britannia's Stables!";
[*]I have suggested, above, a new NPC: the "Animal Trainer's Apprentice";
[*]I suggest (this reply, below; this crazy idea just popped into my head ...) variable-renewed-Trainer-stable-slots.

At this time, I am not asking for any disposition from the administration for/against any suggestions/changes/new content: I wish to continue to compile resources, here; I can always hope that something might just pop-up that makes the staff say, "hey, crap. We can do that; that might work."

Otherwise, criticism, suggestion, observation, and/or whatever remarks from the community is likewise welcome here (precisely in proportion to the input's relevance and utility, mind): the more, and better, information we have for UOSA's inspection, the higher the likelihood we can have this issue happily resolved.

If this issue can be fixed, it would go a long way towards enticing new/returning players to enjoy UOSA.

My second daft suggestion: make Trainer-max-stables-slots variable on NPC reset (that is, daily shard reset).

What I mean:

As it currently stands, all Animal Trainers have fixed-x total stables slots; change (x) to (x=x-y; where y represents a random whole number, not integer, of predetermined range, generated individually for each NPC, and on each daily reset); the maximum possible value of y would remain known only to staff (and might, itself also be random); at any time on any NPC the current state of (x-y) can not be known, except through 'trial and error' player-usage of the NPC.

For clarity's sake: if an NPC has more than (x-y) pets stabled after reset, it will not dump 'extra' pets; however, "my stables are full" will persist until that vendor's total number of stabled pets drops below (x-y).

In-game effect: 'hoarded' stables slots will immediately begin to disappear, as there will remain no way to 'reserve' them; when and where new slots will open-up can not be predicted (and, hence, can not be manipulated for purposes of exploitation/speculation), but new slots will open up frequently, nonetheless.

Moar ideaz plz. Let's not permit UOSA to fail simply because of apathy.

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:51 pm 
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original post made me face palm with all the Not era accurate claims while the behavior is mechanically accurate. stable slot whining has been an issue and many dead horse threads on the topic its not impossible to get a slot and you dont need a pack animal to do deep sea fishing get real....
welcome back josh

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:56 pm 
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iamreallysquall wrote:
... you dont need a pack animal to do deep sea fishing


No one, except you, has said this. How about you swap-out your GM in Mouthing for a GM in Reading?

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 Post subject: Re: NPC shopkeepers tell us all why the shard is struggling
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 5:51 pm 
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1. Completely agree the stable slot issue is probably the biggest item on my list that I would like fixed, but honestly the fixes are for the most part exploitable and therefore ineffective. I absolutely love the idea of each player having 1-3 dedicated slots, but it isn’t going to happen. It’s NEA and the pain/confusion it would cause in programming/playing would kill any value it brings.


I like to the idea of NPC having variable slots, but it isn’t going to happen. I can’t even fathom the amount of whine threads when a tamer takes his dragons out to get some risk free cash and can’t stable them when he gets back because the slot values for his tamer changed. The staff would just be trading one headache for another.


As long as people need high magic resist, tamers will horde WW’s. As long as tamers can generate risk free cash with Dragons, tamers will horde them. As long as Mares are seen as status symbols and frenzies are considered essential PVP equipment tamers will horde them for sale. They aren’t going to change magic resist mechanics, PVM mechanics, or mount mechanics. They shouldn’t and won’t change those things, so slots will always be an issue. We pretty much just have to deal with the situation, and I hate having to say that.

2. I’m fine with the NPC’s running out of cash. Mainly because there is too much gold in the system due to economic design and the advanced shard age. Even as a noob the gold off the mobs was the most important item. I agree it’s annoying when you make a gem run and can’t find a buyer. I am a treasure hunter / lock picker by trade so that’s the one place I run into it most. Annoying however does not equal broken. Visiting a rune library and making a runebook with every gem buyer in it eliminates a lot of the annoyance. All you lose is a bit of time.


I’m not on board with spreading some of the reagent gold to other vendors. The reagent vendors are literally about the only way we are actually eliminating gold in the system (outside of player vendor fees). Anything that keeps the gold they collect in the system I would be against.

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