Why is Grinding so Unrewarding: The Solution Part 2

After introducing my loot and progression system in the last post, we are going to deal with a few more in-depth questions and the “Mysterious Merchant” in this one!

The system is worse than before! We can’t earn a certain amount of “money” anymore!

That is right and wrong at the same time. If you participate in the content you always get a gear part for the Auction House. Of course the price is tied to the dynamics of the economy. Supply and demand can shift depending on the stats and set bonus certain parts grant. Which means that some parts could be worth nothing.

To solve that problem the “Mysterious Merchant” exists. It arrives every 2 weeks or so and has two functions. First it buys gear parts for a special currency called Toal. Toal is a currency you normally can only spend in Waterdeep, which also gives a RPG hint where the merchant is the remaining two weeks. It also offers his own goods which cost Toal and a sizable amount of Gold.

Why Gold?

Neverwinter, as an MMORPG, needs a secondary currency. Of course we can break everything into simple mechanics and let it roll, but where is the nice little detail in it? Also, if we make Gold a bit more rare, player must decide where they spend it. Gold as a reward in a loot chest and true free-2-play currency gains a bit of worth. You can’t pay the merchant without playing the game.

The system of the Mysterious Merchant is not only existent to give gear parts a certain base value. It’s also a reward to seasoned and active players. Only using Toals as currency would also enable the big spenders to get the sweet goods of the merchant. But such players tend to play less of the game, which means they need alternate sources of Gold. They can trade items of a certain value with other players, opening a secondary market for those that actively grind and hence own Gold. For the system to work however you need sufficient sinks. Offers in the AH could or even starting profession tasks could cost a fee. Craftsmen need a payment as well, right?

What does the Mysterious Merchant sell?

Companions, Mounts, Coalescent Wards, Preservation Wards, etc. It will have a small collection of items (four to eight) that are normally only available on the ZEN market and will constantly change its offer. The merchant will feature something new everytime and you can’t rely on a certain item being available. All items sold by the Merchant are bound to account.

PWE and Cryptic still need to make money and this is where the professions come into play, because you can only craft certain gear with high quality assets.

  • Tier 1 Gear: Simple success
  • Tier 2 Gear (through Elemental Infusion): Needs Tier 1 result
  • Tier 3 Gear: Needs Tier 2 result
  • Tier 4 Gear (through Elemental Infusion): Needs Tier 3 result
  • Tier 5 Gear: Needs (new) Tier 4 result

The tier task system needs a small rework to process this properly. But i think it is clear what the intent is. You would need legendary assets to get to a tier four result. Legendary assets can only be produced with the Masterwork Professions and are bound to character. Epic assets could be made resources for the last tier of gear in some form. This would significantly up their value again without completely draining the market.

What’s about the event-thingy?

The Concept is that once in a while an event will grant a one time character bound Coalescent Ward/10x Preservation Ward as reward for participating in it. It is more like a little goody for the casual gamers that can’t spend as much time as others on the game. Of course it is not an easy claim. It should cost a certain amount of event currency to obtain it.

What is the big difference between the old system and this new one?

The old system simply has two markets trying to compete with each other. But one market is always in a disadvantage.

If the ZEN market is in a disadvantage it mean less players are going to spend money on it. Instead they spend AD on the ZEN market, because it generates more value. This is nice for the player, but Cryptic and PWE earn fewer.

If the AD market is in disadvantage, ZEN is almost always on it’s peak and blocks the ZAX. The whole progression gets slower. Some player might even be unable to afford the items they need (for example Coalescent Wards). Cryptic and PWE make a bit more money, but also has a lot of frustrated players (and such players dosn’t tend to spend a lot of money).

The new theoretical system only has one market. Players can still earn some form of currency to buy items in the ZEN market and also have the chance to stay free-2-play if they desire. The Auction House is basically the ZEN market for Players but also supports Cryptic/PWE because ZEN only flows into the system in case someone spends money. The prices in the AH are true supply and demand. Ideally they should be at a point where players feel comfortable about the pricing. The devs could even utilize the market to find their ideal pricing for future ZEN market items.

Thanks everyone for following my thoughts about how Neverwinter fails to make grinding more rewarding and how a better system could look like. Make sure to post your own ideas or remarks in the comments or on our message board!

2 thoughts on “Why is Grinding so Unrewarding: The Solution Part 2

  • Avatar
    June 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    how do i know when the merchant arrives… is they a group that sends out notifications, please let me know, i’ve never heard of this.

    • NWO_Unblogged
      June 21, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      This is a design proposal. There is no such merchant in the game.


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