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HP Challenge Beta Review: Tiers 1+2

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by iPippy, Sep 12, 2023.

  1. iPippy
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    iPippy Nightshadow

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    May 19, 2019
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    12:26 PM
    iPippy
    Greetings,

    As a wielder of the mighty Maple M Playphone and completer of the current iteration of the HP Challenge questlines, I thought I'd weigh in with a few of my prevailing thoughts while running through it. I decided to create a new thread for this as the old one has gotten quite rusty and feel it relevant to make a dedicated spot for other users to share their thoughts/experiences running through it. Feel free to add your thoughts below. Please note that this isnt intended to be a guide, though you may find some helpful insight. I'll try not to make it too direct with spoilers, but if you want to experience the questline and its mechanics blind yourself, come back later.

    I've decided to compose this after completing the blind run-through on one character, but plan to grab the phone on my 2nd account, which I believe would provide insight into what the future of the challenge would look like, once users know how to progress. My thoughts before then will be speculation of said experience.

    Relevant Character Info:
    Class: Bucc
    Level: 200
    Solo/group: Solo
    Blind/Guided: Blind

    Background Info (for users mostly):
    We are initially presented with a checklist of tasks to accomplish: complete 3 of the "optionals" from a small list, complete the "job quests", and complete the "custom questline" to advance an HP tier. Status of each of these is available with a '!challenge' command.

    The optional tasks are what they were before with little to no changes. Tasks such as "use x scrolls", "do x type of quests", "discover x (specific but unknown) maps ". One of the tier 1 tasks is to attend 5 weddings, while another is to pass 10 100% scrolls. It's not the biggest thing to complain about, but some of them are definitely worse than others, and will likely see users gravitate towards those and largely ignore others. It did seem like there was a bit of nuance between the tier 1 and tier 2 optional choices, though. We shall have to wait and see if there's enough variation to make it feel unique.

    The "job quests" are where the "do x damage" type tasks were placed. I've only done the two for marauder right now, one with energy blast (currently bugged to still be drain) and one with energy drain. These two were mostly still doing damage or indirectly caused by doing damage, though I don't fault this as I question how unique one can make these. I'd imagine the intent is to get out there and grind using these skills, but I still just took the shaolin dummies approach as always for Tier 1, while Tier 2 I was actually able to complete it while doing the questline (more on that later).

    Finally, the "custom questline" provides you with a quest in a new tab right at the top of your quest log. Your task is to follow that questline to its completion. This is where a little bit of custom lore gets dropped, using some of our beloved NPCs and monsters. The first questline starts with Vikin in Lith, while the second starts with Muse in Aquarium. Most of the following discussion will center around these quests.

    Tier 1:
    Overall, I can see where much of the development time went. The questlines have a few new maps, a few new items and NPCs with new dialog, and even makes use of some of those mechanics introduced in previous patches (like feeding the doll pop-up from halloween last year). I'd say Tier 2's quest had more in the way of new mechanics, however.

    As a player experiencing it blind, I'm not surprised many users simply get stuck on the first task (finding some coins in the Kerning Swamp). There's very little to go off of, both in terms of where in the swamp to search, and how we are expected to search. Is is a drop from the ligators? Is it a shiny coin like that from Dunas2? Do we need to break the grass? Without spoiling *where* to look, there is actually a hidden NPC somewhere in swamp that you'll need to mouse over. Don't worry, its not as hopeless as that sounds, and I focus on this one in particular as this is the very beginning and the player has not yet been trained to consider hidden NPCs as something to look for in accomplishing these tasks. Once the guides get out there, this becomes even less of an issue, but its still worth highlighting.

    After that initial hurdle, the rest of the quest played out as expected. There were a couple of minor puzzles that will probably confuse some players, such as where to go when the dialog seemingly stops. Those can usually be solved by consulting the quest log or talking to nearby NPCs because you never know what may turn up. I believe the quest log was generally helpful for guidance except for Ant Tunnel scene, where I believe it made reference to an NPC leaving the tunnel. The text makes sense afterwards, but it did confuse me in the moment of whether I was supposed to follow into or out of the tunnel. Speaking of the tunnel scene, I wonder if a setting up a simple timer would be possible. I felt it was lacking any kind of urgency for what it was depicting.

    More important than the minor plot details, however, are the mechanics/difficulty/whatever else. I have not been able to get a clear answer on the intended difficulty/time to complete of these tiers. Thus, I cannot say for certain how well it hits the mark without knowing what the mark even is! That is probably my biggest issue with these challenges. These first 2 tiers start to give the impression that they can be completed in maybe a week or two. The first tier is by far the easier, and give the impression of being like a level 40 quest (minus the final boss, which feels like a level 70). It actually involves nothing of traditional quest substance, and it probably took me just as long to complete at level 200 as it would have at level 100. It was mainly talking to NPCs, killing some red drakes for a few minutes, grabbing a very small assortment of items, and a casual stroll through the ant tunnel. I didnt actually time my progress, but I probably spent like an hour-ish casually reading through and figuring out where to go to complete the quest. Know that I know what to do, I could probably expect to do it in 30 mins, give or take. Add in a bit of dummy punching if im not grinding and some owls/scrolls, and I'm ready for tier 2! Quite underwhelming for anything other than an introduction. I think the questlines overall need more item hunting/monster killing, but I also think the ideal way to fix this Victoria Island questline is to reduce its level to 70. That gives some focus for the 3rd job damage quest, provides a good introduction point to the challenges right at 3rd job advancement, and makes killing the few Victoria mobs you do a bit less of a joke, while still possibly standing a chance against the boss (lower its damage if needed). I cannot stress this enough, I think it would take me longer to get an ellin ring casually than to do the first challenge tier. I have no idea if that's the intent, but I'd be overall unimpressed if it was, especially with how long/fragmented the development time is.

    Tier 2:
    This one is the more interesting of the two questlines, as you actually have to do a bit more than grabbing a paltry sum of bananas and friends. It also takes longer to do, as a meaty kill quest finally makes its return. Due to its targeted nature of hunting specific mobs, I actually think it took me longer to do than the ludi 7k solo, but I dont think that's a complaint. It might feel dry, boring and artificially pads its length, but its also the cornerstone of all questing in this game. Killing things, looting things, and bringing them places. As far as I'm concerned, all of the other cool mechanics and toys are flavor text to playing the game. I enjoyed feeding the bird, capturing fish souls in a stealth mission, but it also had less sense of completion compared to killing the mobs or finding the tooth from the drake. There's likely a good balance to be had here, especially as being bombarded with the kill quest after 1.5 questlines of meh was quite a tonal shift. In my head, the killing quests encourage party play, looting common etcs encourage economy, and the questline itself is a counterbalance to simply multiclienting your way through the kills. Right now, the needle is too far towards focus on the quest itself though, and that's also what likely takes the longest to create. Birb was fun, but the "challenge" of HP challenge won't be in feeding the birb. Outside of the kill quest (and box RNG), the second quest is probably only marginally longer than the first.

    Note on quest structuring:
    I had imagined the questline to be the "juicy in-between" of the actual challenging content in the traditional gameplay loop. Have a large quest of killing, looting, what-have-you (ideally by interacting with other players), and then a cool-off of exposition/lore/travel/minor tasks. Repeat a few times between these larger quest "checkpoints" and we've got a challenge quest. Perhaps we've only seen the easy levels and they get more engaging as we go. Or perhaps I simply have a different vision in what I want.

    tl;dr I do feel that overall the project has good potential and has that Legends feel, but I must keep asking the question: should these be taking considerably less time to complete than a card tier? Actual relevance of the HP numbers aside, this is supposed to be an alternative path to voting for years, where you play a character at full power (which is also what the monster book ring was supposed to do years ago).
     
    • Great Work Great Work x 13
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. Pasta
    Online

    Pasta Game Developer Staff Member Game Developer

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    Jul 18, 2017
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    Pastaland
    6:26 PM
    Moderator Post
    Thanks for the early feedback! I was planning to make a feedback thread later on during the event, but I'm glad it came out even faster than I expected, more time to discuss about things.

    I'll address a few points about the questlines. Indeed that's where most of the time investment went, as a big part of the system for everything else (excluding the need to rewrite the base code, to support quests instead of only data counters) was already in place.

    While the first questline serves as a sort of "introduction" to the system, meaning that it being slightly easier than the other tier questlines is expected, the difficulty as a whole did not hit the mark of what we intended. There isn't a specific player time investment planned for it, but it should be comparable to card hunting, as you mentioned.
    Truth to be told, I was afraid that adding more monster-hunting requirements would have felt boring. But then again, considering that this is MapleStory, I've probably been overthinking it and caused the opposite effect.

    This was actually the initial idea for it; I decided against a timer because of the burden that running out of time and having to redo the walk all over again could have introduced. But in hindsight, that might not be the case.

    Hmm, are you suggesting to move the questline by itself down, making it be a requirement for the actual challenges (and thus shifting Aquaroad to level 100, and the other tiers one step back as well), or to move the whole tier 1 challenge to level 70?
    I ask because our plan to fix the questline, in the case it proved to be out of line with our goal, was to expand/rethink parts of it (or them*, as tier 2 questline might then need some retouching as well), so I'm curious about potentially different routes.

    Overall, it's been tough to gauge the difficulty that we'd have needed out of the questline to make it be a sufficient time commitment. On the plus side, fixing this type of issue is not really a problem, as it's just a matter of adding more content to a now-existing storyline.
    To be clear, even with changes being applied to them, the two tiers of challenges are still gonna come live during Halloween patch, as long as no massive problems are encountered further down the line.

    Thank you again for the insight! Everyone's feedback on the questlines will be welcomed, so do feel free to keep it coming.
     
    • Great Work Great Work x 3
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Jafel
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    Jafel Capt. Latanica

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    6:26 PM
    KingSlime
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    (I have only completed the first tier so far, so that's what I'm keeping to for now)

    I general, I do think it's very well designed to start with an easier, less time consuming quest for the first tier to get players up to speed on what to expect. I agree that the time investment should ramp up and approach a Monster Book Ring Tier. Although too long of a quest line is also a bit extreme, as we're all just working through the same gameplay loop of earning mesos and experience.

    You could still add the timer, albeit a bit of a forgiving timer (e.g. based on 100 movement speed/jump), just as a feedback loop for the player to understand they're in the middle of the chase. The entire chase felt really cool to play through.
     
    • Like Like x 1
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  4. Subterlabor
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    Subterlabor Headless Horseman

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    Mar 13, 2023
    10:26 AM
    SweatLord
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    Toilet
    It's only mildy relevant to the thread but I really suggest making ToT tied into the high-level challenges, so the PB preq's are tied into it together due to needing access to maps, etc. It would bring alot of traffic back in ToT, I'm sure you guys have probably considered it to some extent. It also seems fitting considering endgame challenges allow PB content, so hopefully more people gain interest in participating in that content. Off topic comment over unwashed BM patiently excited for challenges :rolleyes:
     
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  5. OP
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    iPippy
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    iPippy Nightshadow

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    iPippy
    We'll have to wait for more voices to come in; I may well end up alone on this. Hopefully I've added enough of my thoughts on it for others to latch onto for discussing though. I will say just dropping a huge task on the player suddenly is spooky and should be used sparingly for effect (the aqua kill quest certainly caught me off guard), but with enough quest phases I think that can be worked around to not overwhelm the player. As the first "non-intro" quest tier, albatross quest may not be too short at the end of the day if there is a scaling difficulty behind the scenes that we cannot see. I just personally wouldn't shy away from a bit of good ol' killing and looting in a game centered around killing things and looting things. :cool:
     
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  6. OP
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    iPippy
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    iPippy Nightshadow

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    iPippy
    I think I deleted the upper half of my post earlier... #justmobilethings. I'm lazy so I'll summarize: I can casually hunt a card tier in maybe 2-3 days of playing, but id have to check after maint (most of my recent hunt was done with a single 110 priest to soak exp and get cards on a new char). I believe that to be fast among the general playerbase, but optimized players can go even faster.

    I believe Tier 2 quest took me about 3-4-ish hours blind. Ofc I used a 200 bucc, but I think it should compare okay to a group of 110s (let alone someone who just brings their mage). I'd be interested to see how other folks liken the questline to a card tier.

    ‐-------------------------‐-------------
    My proposal would be make the entirety of t1(intro) level 70 instead of 100. To be fair, this is mostly to preserve some headcanon of Victoria Island peaking shortly into 3rd job. I didn't consider moving t2 to 100, but it's also an option to give a little more breathing room to the level ranges of later tiers. I know how many useful options of mobs/maps there are to work with at higher levels...
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  7. Trion
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    Trion Capt. Latanica

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    12:26 PM
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    I can't speak for anyone else Pasta. But just go with the monster hunting killing if you want. Its simple and to the point and requires effort. If people find it boring then you can't please everyone but at least it makes sense and requires effort.

    Then again I am a simple man and I am the same person who hates events centered around Jump Quests and just wants very 1 dimensional grinding stuff because at the end of the day Maple at its core is a very simplistic grinding game with its gameplay and that is exactly what I signed up for. All the other extra stuff is a nice side distraction.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2023

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