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In Module 12 the devs introduced a new system that fundamentally changed how campaign progression works in the game. Before that, the solo content was mostly about tasks that you had to run on each and every day. If you weren’t able to or simply didn’t like the repetitiveness, you inevitably lost progression with every day you passed on. Not only did those systems come with a higher workload, but also with generally longer campaigns. The devs obviously had to make sure that the “hardcores” that would show up every day were still busy for 4-6 weeks. As result some others had trouble getting through stuff within a module, much less on multiple characters. The most painful example of this is Storm Kings Thunder.
Granted, the focus on dailies comes with certain advantages too. It surely ups the incentive to login daily, and that could help with retention rates. On the other hand however players might feel forced to do the tasks, which makes more work than fun. It’s an open secret in game development that players like freedom. Games that dictate what you have to do to achieve certain things are simply less successful. That’s why the devs introduced the “Weekly Haul” system with the Jungles of Chult campaign that pretty much changes progressions to a weekly system instead. Players nowadays can freely choose when and how much of the campaign load they want to do over the course of a week.
Weekly Haul Is a Keeper
Unsurprisingly the Neverwinter community reacted overwhelmingly positive to the change, especially since the game features a casual crowd. In one of our recent polls 36% hoped it stays for good while another 47% were not opposed to the system. Only 17% said they want to get rid of it.
There is another interesting element in the poll however that touches on the topic I’d like to talk about today. Because the 47% that were “not opposed” to the Weekly Haul system still would like to see a change. That’s kind of the curse of an ever-evolving MMO. There can’t be stagnancy, even if you create something that works for your game and playerbase. The risk of it being interpreted as regression grows over time.
Module 15 Will Probably Feature Something Else
Unfortunately even great systems eventually run their course and let me say that this isn’t all bad. You have to mix it up a little to cater to the different kinds of players. Just remember that Underdark (Mod 8) already featured a weekly progression system. So there definitely seems to be a natural cycle to make sure guys always find something they like every once in a while.
I would at least expect that whatever comes with Module 15 is no longer called “Weekly Haul” and sets a greater focus on dailies again. That doesn’t have to be only campaign progression by the way. I like how Makos’ and Eku’s Favor in Omu introduces an optional hourly grind for hardcore players. If you’d make all or some rewards (like the Mounts) unbound, you could introduce an alternate way of farming the zone for progression (Astral Diamonds). I guess that’s what Hunts could be used for in Chult, but players simply like token-based systems that much more.
The Risk of Stagnancy
If the devs stick with a weekly progression, they probably will have to add optional, yet meaningful, daily tasks. Otherwise you unfortunately risk to look stagnant as a game and exclude a certain portion of your playerbase for too long. It’s kind of a weird situation where you have to let go of a highly popular and reasonable system just to not be too repetitive with what you offer. That’s why it would indeed surprise me if the “Weekly Haul” is extended beyond Ravenloft, although I’m personally a fan of it.
What do you think could be “next” in terms of campaign progression? Do you agree that sticking with the “Weekly Haul” system would promote stagnancy? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or the corresponding thread on our message board!
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