List of Systems and Design Decisions That Failed

[blog_subscription_form]Last month I presented you my list of systems and design decisions that worked out great for Neverwinter. The stuff listed there are bright spots and intriguing innovations that noticeably improved the game. Not everything the devs introduced throughout the modules was a smashing success however. Some stuff simply didn’t pan out as expected or even was a complete design fail. So today, in no particular order, I’m going through my list of design decisions that should have never seen the light of day.

Black Ice / Voninblod Empowerment

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Let’s start with one of my favorites! I’ve got a message to the devs that thought Armor Set Empowerment was a good progression system: The game is grindy enough! Back in Module 3, I already wasn’t a huge fan of Black Ice, but using the same system in Module 10 was even worse of an idea because the daily task list of players had already exploded. I know the game needs to keep players busy with comparably small resources to work with, but just throwing different kinds of repetitive tasks towards the population isn’t going to do it.

Retrospectively I gotta say though that the outcry back then wasn’t entirely justified. Also thanks to later adjustments, farming for Voninblod wasn’t as much of a pain as initially thought. That doesn’t mean however that I ever want to see another variance of Armor Set Empowerment again.

The Gateway

Man, the Gateway was great. Why it still made this list? Well, it’s one of the things that unfortunately did more harm than good, at least from the dev’s point of view. The Gateway was a web interface with which you could access and manage certain aspects of your account. It was heaven for those that wanted to do professions while not actually playing the game for example. But more than that, it was a perfect environment for bots. That’s why, although the idea was superb, it was eventually closed down.

There is however a blatant design error attached to the Gateway as well. The Loyal Companion Gear that dropped from its “Sword Coast Adventure” mini game features item level 840 stat values, although the tooltip only says 420.

Several PVP Related Systems, Gear, and Maps

It’s tough being a PVP lover in Neverwinter. It’s hard to say whether several attempts by the devs to jump-start the game mode have failed because the content was bad or because the game mode was already dead at that point, but the list of PVP design fails is long. It starts with a bunch of gear that was so overpowered that it completely broke everything. The Ring of Ambush +4 was such an example, but multiple mods introduced items that had to be nerfed later because they caused too much trouble on the PVP battlefield. I’d also say Gauntlgrym 10vs10 was a fail and Strongholds PVP definitely never worked due to multiple lag and balancing issues.

Oh, and what about Overload Enchantments? Those drains were fun as well, right?

Overload Enchantments

Speaking about Overload Enchantments, they probably deserve their own category. I don’t think a lot of players actually farmed constantly to keep their slots filled. For enchantments that only last two to eight hours of gameplay, the effects just aren’t good enough. For Companions in the meantime they are completely useless as well and it’s one of the strangest decisions to date that the rarest +5 gear in Illusionist’s Gambit features Overload Slots.

Elemental Evil Campaign

There’s a lot to dislike about Module 6: Elemental Evil, but for this one I’m picking the original campaign design. To progress through the campaign zones, the game required players to run repetitive hourly tasks a gazillion times. It was truly unbearable. It didn’t help that there was no real story, just that bunch of kill and fetch quests. The devs soon realized they screwed up and reworked the whole thing multiple times. Since then, Neverwinter has gone into a different direction anyway, more trending towards weekly caps and completions instead of daily or hourly ones.

Engine Scalability Issues

Dragonflight Banner

It’s one of the worst kept secrets that Neverwinter’s engine can’t handle too much load. It first got evident in Module 5’s “Temple of Tiamat”. The 25-player instance was insanely laggy, rubberband-y and sometimes all but unplayable. The issues with large sized battles and maps continued throughout the years. Whenever there are too many players in an instance, or too many procs, the game just start lagging a lot. The list of affected content is long: The mentioned Tiamat Trial, Demonic HEs in Icewind Dale, Dragonflights, dragon runs in the Well of Dragons, or big social hubs like Protector’s Enclave and Port Nyanzaru, only to name a few. This is probably one of the main reasons why the devs do not design content for more than ten players max.

Underdark Replayability

Neverwinter’s Module 8: Underdark, made a big thing of its so-called “replayability“. It wanted to introduce group content (TotDG, PoM and Demo) that’s less linear and challenges player’s on each and every run. I wouldn’t call it a pure fail, but let’s say it didn’t exactly live up to its hype. Here’s what I wrote back in 2015, and the point still stands:

[su_quote cite=”j0Shi” url=””]You can hardly call two variants with some random spawn locations replayable. I would have expected much more procedural elements from such a feature. Simply doubling the scenarios is certainly not a way to achieve what they promoted.[/su_quote]

The devs kept “variations” intact in other content (Folly, campaign lairs, Illusionist’s Gambit), but stopped advertising it as a main feature.

Co-op Heroic Encounters

Module 11 and Module 13 introduced something that I would call “co-op” Heroic Encounters. In the River District whole instances could work together and supply resources to a treasure ship to “spawn” a Major Heroic Encounter. Now in Omu, you can do the same by collectively empowering all shrines in an instance. Or well, you could do, because nobody actually does that. It’s not an issue of the design though, just that players tend to choose the path of least resistance. And collaborating with an instance isn’t normally the fastest way to complete a Major HE. In the River District the “Ship HE” was in fact viable, but more because it was close to the base camp and favored by instance hoppers. But I bet most of you haven’t even seen the “Wrath of Acererak” in Omu yet.

Utility Enchantments Dropping Unbound Refining Points

thanks to putzboy for pitching this one to me on the message board!

Early on, Utility Enchantments like the Dragon’s Hoard Enchantment, Rank 10 used to drop unbound refining points. This backfired in a big way, because everyone and their mothers were sitting in certain foundries and farming RPs 24/7. Bots flooded the market with RP so cheap that upgrading to max ranks was a non-issue. The devs adjusted way too late, which not only led to the refining market being completely broken, but also contributed to the demise of the Foundry.

That’s my list of system and design fails in Neverwinter, but I’m sure you have your own stuff in mind! Share it on our social channels, in the comments below, or the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

5 thoughts on “List of Systems and Design Decisions That Failed

  • April 12, 2018 at 9:18 am

    I’ve done Wrath Of Acererak, but it’s more work to spawn than the Tyrant, gives the same rewards, and is much harder because of the incredible lag that the powers the boss mobs use cause. So it’s basically an HE without much of a point – much like the Camp HE in Soshentar, except if you needed to run around the map to make the camp HE spawn.

  • April 12, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Black Ice/Voninblod Empowerment
    DIE! DIE! DIE!

    The Gateway


    Overload Enchantments

    Elemental Evil Campaign

    Engine Scalability Issues

    Underdark Replayability
    Well, I am still running it for Boons on some and buying Underwear for new Alts…

    Co-op Heroic Encounters
    I stop at Mod 9

  • April 13, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Why don’t they fix the previous campaigns, to ‘upgrade’ them to methods that work? Imagine EE that works like chult. remove all ‘dead’ gear like the black ice gear and make it transmutes or something. Give a reason for getting black ice– why not make it empower overload enchants so they don’t expire and disappear? Otherwise black ice just stays in the inventory never to be used. Tiamat certainly needs a major rework, like reducing the difficulty down to a 10 toon team, like epic demo. Personally i’d like to see all wep sets upgraded to modern levels, meaning make elemental fire, twisted, drowned, etc… same base damage as the chult weps (teak, wootz) and same IL. That would give more variety in weapon play. Keep the OMU sets the top set to get, so that players can look forward to that endgame wep sets. Fashion bag?? include transmutes please. Quest bag so quest items don’t take up valuable bag space. Profession resources picked up but unable to convert to RP, please change so we can. These are my gripes.

  • April 14, 2018 at 11:23 am

    I like those ideas, Dawn Starr. I’d also like more of the new weapon sets to be BtA if they are farmed, rather than crafted or bought from AH.

    Most of my Alts still use Elemental Drowcraft, Ostorian (or a combination) and Twisted, Drowned or Burning sets as they are BtA so I can share them, like the Underdark Rings. Some of my “Mains” have the Chultan Crafted sets upgraded, but have hardly use them, but they are BoE. I did not bother with new armour beyond Ostorian, as I know that by the time I am seriously farming Mod 11 12 and 13, there will be new weapons sets, new armour, new underwear and new rings. I already have a bunch of Dusk that needs salvaging, so I don’t need any more, newer gear, as what I have is fine up to Mod 10.

    The worst thing about Chultan Crafted is that they do not overlap with Twisted/Drowned/Burning at all – a green Rank 1 Chultan Crafted is already more powerful than a Legendary Twisted, and that’s just daft. I suppose it helps new players burn through Sharandar Dread Ring, IWD and WoD much faster, though.

    I know many, many players who could already run a 10-man Tiamat. But they have long moved on to ToNG and CotDG. The difficulty I find for getting the last few Linus is not the encounter itself (as long as everyone knows what to do and what not to do), it’s getting a Tiamat run in the first place. So if they made it a 10-Man Trial, maybe I can get those last few Linus for the boons!

    IWD is still one of my favourite Zones, but I don’t think there’s anything there to buy for Black Ice. Not even decent transmutes as they need Scrimshaw. Xvim Belts are quite cheap on the AH, and people only need 1 per account. I have the 3-piece Xvim set in the bank for all my new characters to use. And I have Rank 5 of the Forge on one of each class and that’s also all you need per account.

    I’m really pleased they made the Fashion bag work the way I and others suggested it should.

    But I SO agree that quest items like Windel’s Lantern, Salve, Mimics etc should go in the Useful Item Tab or something similar. If I collect all the quests in the first 4 Zones for a 2xCurrency event, there’s at least 7 quests in Sharandar, x3, so that’s a load of items there, plus the items to collect. Dread Ring has almost as many. There’s 7 quests each in Icewind Pass and Dwarven Valley and probably 10 or 12 in Well of Dragons.

    So that can more than fill a Runic Bag!

    Yes. Quest Item Tab is sorely needed!


  • April 14, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    The problem is getting cryptic to read, agree, say they agree, then make changes that works and not fail. So far i don’t know if they even read the suggestions we leave, let alone agree with them. I do love this game, it has so much potential far above what it already is.

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