RP & Salvage Developer Spotlight - Aug 2020
Salvage was unintentionally too good. Due to it's unlimited use, it was far too good. The flat 5rp is in place for now, but that is not set in stone. Combined with short-comings in a few other areas, it helped foster a meta of racing the card crafting track that isn't in the spirit of the game we want to provide.
Would you like to know more?
A little background and preface. I'm currently involved quite a bit with game balancing and creating a fair and fun competition each season. During soft launch, we're experimenting fairly aggressively to find the perfect fit for the different mechanics and so what I say today may not be true anymore a month or two from now. We greatly value player involvement in analysing and prodding our mechanics so we can get things into amazing shape for global launch. Thanks to all the Explorers on the forums chatting it up!
Alright, let's get into it!
Basic Player activity flow:
- Do activities to gain RP
- Spend RP to unlock a card
- Use resources to craft those cards
- Spend cards at settlements to create faction advantage, and/or Victory Points to claim victory!
Activities to Gain RP
Players can earn RP from activities like:
- Searching shrubs,
- Playing dice games,
- Building and rolling RP generating buildings at Settlement Harvest Dice,
- Performing some NPC quests.
- Leveling up
- Salvage a card for some RP and to reclaim inventory space.
A controversial mechanic.
In CATAN – World Explorers, we want players exploring and building up settlements because that's an integral part of the traditional CATAN experience. It also makes for a more fun competition.
The intent for Salvage was to create a way to get that last final bit of RP to research a card - it needed to be a ratio substantial enough for the player to make a meaningful choice to salvage it. But with a few taps, you could easily make far more RP than performing any of the other activities above. It was far too advantageous.
Building Card Rarity
Rarity for our development cards is kind of a misnomer. Rarity in gaming today equates to "better" and in CATAN – World Explorers, that's not quite what we're looking for. Otherwise, as we see in so many other games, the developer ends up in a numbers race to the point where everything old immediately becomes scrap.
Our goal is for common cards to be a necessary foundation in growing a settlement. Higher rarity cards should be considered ways to specialize a settlement as it ranks up, opposed to being direct replacements for similar cards of lower rarity. As a result, a brand new player should always be able to make a worthy contribution to a settlement, and not feel like they have to grind and catch-up to become useful.
Is that what's happening right now on August 27th in NZ?
No - but the Salvage/research race helped us analyze that.
For soft-launch one of our goals was to highlight and encourage Trade because, along with Building, it's a key part of the traditional CATAN experience. As a result, the common card collection consists of Settlement Upgrade, 5 Markets, 2 core VP (Fairgrounds/Monument) and 3 personal currency effects (Bell Tower/Crane/Storehouse). The factory/resource generators were moved to a higher rarity.
What we learned?
- Markets are unfun when it comes to harvest dice.
- Settlements can be hard to find or not enough of them.
We've been very active in trying to make sure players have settlement options - this should be improved from what it was a few seasons ago – and we're always working on it. Markets have some new juiciness planned - stay tuned!
The bad news and the good news
RP got nerfed hard, dramatically slowing the pace of research. Salvage rates may change in the future, but now (hopefully) you have a better idea of the grand scheme. Research is an important mechanic, but it isn't the ONLY important mechanic. At this time, it's more important for us to make sure that lower rarity cards are viable and fun opposed to forcing players to focus on research at the expense of all else.
We are excited with the performance of newly implemented features like Gilda Trade (trade from the backpack) and the Find Nearest Settlement functionality to increase accessibility of those areas. Markets and building costs are scheduled to receive some attention, and more...
Thanks to all the Explorers out there. We are definitely aware of rough spots as they appear, and you're helping us smooth them out to make the game better than ever. We hope CATAN – World Explorers can bring some joy into your day and that everyone is staying safe and healthy.