Doddler's RO Journal

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The Rant to End All Rants

By Doddler on December 6, 2007 in category 'Ranting'

Today I felt the need to rant... I'm not too sure what about, but it needs to be a rant none the less.  So today I figure I will take a stab at a few things I think the game could improve on (from a management perspective).  This rant, like every other rant is more of a wild rambling and complaining, and probably doesn't contain anything particularly insightful.  You are free to skip past this and view the regular content if you want.

1) Pricing

I've made my views on this pretty loud so some might already know what I think.  But here goes.

I think one of the problems facing Ragnarok these days, in terms of attracting new players is competing with other major MMORPGs.  RO is neither a graphical showcase like some games nor is it a marketing super-popular powerhouse such as WoW, which might explain why people are less likely to pay the same for RO as they do for their other MMOs.

RO has been moving towards a hybrid payment system for a while, with a basic game subscription fee as well as micro-transactions through the Kafra Shop system.  It did take a while to sink in, but I think the Kafra shop is actually a step in the right direction.  Micro-transactions are quickly becoming the de-facto norm in the more casual MMO market.  I do think however that it's the basic game fee that needs to change.

Other RO servers have been experimenting to varying degrees of success different payment systems.  Level Up Games runs a series of free game servers, with modified mechanics and increased reliance on the Kafra Shop.  Russian RO is free to play but you gain additional benefits from paying for a premium game account, such as increased experience rate, extended storage, and more character slots.  Since the majority of kRO gamers tend to play from net cafes, the game itself when played there is free.  However, kRO has tiers of netcafe service where you can elect to pay an additional fee.  Higher levels of service open up new kafra shop items for purchase, and allow you to visit a special npc in any town for a powerful buff to your stats (the exact levels of service can be seen here ).

It's fascinating to see what other providers are doing with it.  I guess what I'm really trying to touch on is that the iRO subscription system may be a tad behind.  I don't think RO can compete head on with big name titles such as WoW when the cost of service is almost exactly the same.

I don't want to suggest though that iRO should go free... with botting the way it is in RO, free servers go to hell pretty damn fast.  But I think that they could stand to make some changes.  For example, let's say RO basic service is only cost $6-$7/month.  You could extend the amount of character slots on your account though for a small fee, and even boost your storage capacity.  If you paid the full service fee (let's say $14/month), you could gain additional benefits such as access to some special kafra shop items, reduced death penalty (0.5%?) and free healing and stat buffs in major towns.

It's just a random thought... the idea is that you could lower the price point for new players, but ultimately players would want to use the premium service and make use of the Kafra SHop.

2) Referals

One thing that always confused me is why iRO never had a referral system.  It would take nothing for them to whip up a web form for subscribers to send a referral email to someone, and then check later if the email that it was sent to ended up paying for an account. 

Referral systems in other games tend to be quite successful, and Gravity could provide benefits to users who successfully refer someone and that person pays for an account.  If you referred someone and they paid, you could say get a free month of service, and say enter in to a raffle to win a random prize drawing each month (merchandise, kafra shop points, special headgears, it doesn't matter).  That would be pretty good motivation.

3) Marketing

I always harp on Gung-ho, the management company for Japanese Ragnarok for being overly capitalistic, but they have good ideas.

I don't so much mean marketing in the advertising sence, it's just that Gravity doesn't seem to do a whole lot to entice the existing users to further enjoy the game.  For this section I'm simply going to go over some of the various campaigns Gung-ho has done with jRO.

Recently jRO has started an interesting trend, attempting to bring players back into RO.  Their “Come Back” campaign comprised of several tiers.  At the base level, there was the bonus for players to re-activate accounts that were de-activated for over 2 months.  These accounts when activated would be given a “Provisions Package” which contains a series of nice things, 4x battle manuals, a full set of bless/agi scrolls, and insurance.  New accounts made during the campaign dates were also given a provision package, although the new account one only had half as many items in it.

Another campaign was a Kafra Shop promotional campaign, where for a few weeks you gained double the bonus Kafra Shop points.  This is a bit of a tricky one to explain.  Let's say you buy $40 in points, you're given 5200 points.  Your base points is 4000 (100 points per dollar), and you gain 1200 extra points.  So during the event, you would actually get 6400 points for $40.  Not a bad deal.

jRO doesn't usually simply give out exp events for free like iRO does, they usually tie them into some kind of event.  For example, they had a referral campaign, where they were driving to get a certain number of new subscribers.  If they got less than 1000 new paying subscribers through referrals during the referral event, then the server would get a week of 1.2x exp.  If they got 1000-3000 referrals, it would be 1.5x, and if they broke 3000 referrals, then the server would have a full 2x exp event.  In addition each successful referral put your name in for a raffle, where items were given out to lucky winners.  You could win multiple times too; you just had to get multiple referrals to get your name into the draw.  They had 100 ocas, 1000 opbs for the raffle rewards, and everyone who didn't win one of those got an obb.

I also wanted to talk about in game hype.  I sometimes feel like I'm a one man army when it comes to promoting future ragnarok content.  kRO however promotes unfinished game content for future episodes through use of special loading screens and a patch client that updates its look every episode.

Click on a loading screen to see it close up.

4) Expanded Kafra Shop

I'm not going to lie, I really like how the kRO Kafra Shop works, more so than the iRO one.  I think it has more to do with the tiers of sales.

For example, on iRO, if you want a battle manual, it costs 100 points.  Want a box of 10? It costs 1000 points.  It's no cheaper to get a large number, and manuals are really the only thing that you can actually do that with.  Not so on kRO. One battle manual is the iRO equivalent of 60 points.  A box of 5 is the equivalent of 240 points, and for a box of 10 it will fetch you only 400 points.  You save by buying big.

Skill scrolls are the same.  On iRO an assumptio box, which contains 20 assumptio scrolls, is 150 points.  On kRO, you can buy an Assumptio box of 10, which costs 22 points, as box of 30 which costs 54 points, and a box of 50 which costs 95 points.  For consumable items that you use extremely frequently, it would bring greater peace of mind to know that you don't pay as much if you use them a lot.  I also feel like I'm breaking the bank less when I buy one box of 50 scrolls than if I have to buy 3 boxes.

It's worth mentioning that iRO gets fairly shafted for kafra shop prices.  I planned on making a huge pricing comparison page, but for now you can use the old one which shows kRO and jRO prices on basic shop items.  It's very out of date, but you can find it here

The manuals and gum I think are a bit pricy, as are the ori/elu.  At least, the manuals are priced too far out of my price range.  The headgears seem fair in price, since they are permanent.  I'm fairly happy with the food items.  The kRO ones are half the price of ours, but they're still fairly inexpensive.  The jRO ones are a fair bit more expensive but the jRO ones don't cancel on death like ours do.  The main ones I have a problem with are mostly the skill scrolls.  It seems dumb that a super useful headgear like the Peco Peco Hairband costs as much as 26 minutes worth of assumptio scrolls.  Actually the fact that basic support skills that last 1-3 minutes cost 5-10 cents a cast is pretty weak too.

I do want to see some new Kafra shop items.  The increased recovery potions and the life recovery potions are all pretty nice.  I wouldn't mind the rental items as long as they kept it to fairly simple levels and didn't offer anything too broken.  The Grinder, hard candy, and other such items are a bit too much though.

What I really, really want to see from the kafra shop, the top item on my want list is as follows:

Oooh yeah.  I would be a happy person if iRO were to offer those.

And I think that about wraps up my rant.  Damn, this is 4 pages typed up in MS Word... a poorly written monstrosity.  I'm surprised you survived to read till the end!  Till next time~

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An MVP Rant

By Doddler on November 1, 2007 in category 'Ranting'

I'm going to warn people in advance, there are no pretty pictures this time, and for the most part its one giant post of bitching and complaining.  You've been warned!

So I've got a bit of a bone to pick with the recent boss buffs.  In particular, they're stupid.

To some extent, I think its understandable.  Boss monsters in RO have fallen behind the times, and for the most part were quite easy.  This wasn't helped by the myrad of exploits that allowed people to kill bosses easily, and there were some boss monsters that were still incredibly hard, but most of them were fairly simple.

However, I do think that balance wise, this was intended.  The MVP game as it were has been about controlling a number of boss monster times while competing against other players.  Since the majority of boss monsters you have to kill dozens, if not hundreds of times in order to gain anything of remote value, there was a sort of requirement that an MVP player would attempt to kill as many as possible.

Unfortunately lots of the MVP changes don't make much sence.  The lower tier MVPs are ok still.  Hatii, Stormy, Phreeoni, Maya, Eddga, to some extent Moonlight Flower, havn't changed drastically enough to be a big deal.  Moonlight Flower's behavior is actually considerably different, but with her new skill usage she uses killer skills, like her mammonite less, so it may infact make her easier than she was before.

But I'm talking more about big MVPs.  Baphomet, RSX (or any MVP that uses earthquake for that matter), Lord of the Dead, etc.  The changes don't make any sence at all.  Orc Lord atleast makes sence... they gave him a fancy new axe, and while not that great of an axe, it drops often enough to feel rewarding to kill him.

But take Baphomet.  He's gone from one of the more unhunted mvps to being neigh impossible, and definately unworthy.  He will kill outright any unprepared player, and even those that are packing the best-of-the-best gears will be challenged to take him out.  His drops are worthless, unless you think 2% on majestic goat and 2% on crescent scythe is worth killing a painfully challenging MVP.

The day of the Biochemist is long gone.  MVPs now heal while you're off screen, making hit and run worthless.  Baphomet and RSX for example heal 10000 hp every 5 seconds.  Even escaping from their earthquake and coming back can cost your.  In the case of RSX, I basically decided he's impossible for biochemist now.  I used 100 bombs (3.5m in cost) the other day to try to kill RSX, and he was still at half health (the maximum he'll heal to).  Infact my encounter with RSX was the reason why I'm writing this rant.  You just can't hit and run MVPs anymore.  And even if those 100 bombs were enough to kill him, do you really think its worth it for the 1/200 chance that you MIGHT get something decent?  I don't mind MVPs being mind-bogglingly hard if you were actually rewarded for the challenge.

The earthquake skill doesn't really make sence to me.  Earthquake does three separate hits at roughly 1000% attack power, which is split across all players in range.  The problem here, is that even with a sizable party, that amount of attack power is completely unreasonable.  First off, no one in their right mind is going to take a party of 5 to baphomet or RSX, and even if they did, they wouldn't survive earthquake anyways.  The thing about existing MVP skills like the elemental attacks (which usually are 500% attack power), is that they only strike the main tank, and the damage can be reduced using a correct combination of resistance equipment.

You can't do that with earthquake.  The only reduction gear against earthquake is the ghostring card, and golden thief bug card.  These cards are insanely rare, and insanely expensive.  It shouldn't be a requirement to go fight boss monsters to be equipping some of the rarest equipment in the game.  And even if your main tank with 15000 hp can survive earthquake, there are many character classes that are alienated by the skill.  Snipers and Assassins for example cannot attack while using a shield.  These characters have lower HP usually, and there's honestly no way in hell they could survive the skill.

I wouldn't mind earthquake of course if there was much of a point.  Valkyrie Randgris drops almost all parties with her earthquake... its simply unstoppable.  You require an incredible party to take her down now... and the rewards are just the same as they were back when you could kill her in 10 seconds without looking twice.

Don't even get me started on Lord of the Dead.  He is truely the lord of death... he kills most players right off the bat with his Hell's Judgement.  His power-up boosts his attack power to terrible levels, and his agility up makes him impossible to hit with regular melee skills.  And if you manage to take down this newly strengthened beast, whats it to you? The highest chance you have at getting anything of value, is 1/1000 chance for the icepick.  Is that REALLY worth it?

I don't really think so.

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