Posted in News
by Ron on Jul 24, 2021 14:37 PM
Banner for Closed Alpha Phase One End

Phase One was a success! What do we do now?

Closing Schedule

Phase One will end Monday, July 26th. The server will remain online in its current state until Monday.

After Monday, we will close public player access, and you will no longer be able to access the game. You will still be able to access our website, and current player data will remain for a little while longer so everyone can browse through final player progress.

We will be wiping for Phase Two. We didn't anticipate a wipe initially, but we will be making some specific changes that will force us to start fresh. More information will be available in the Phase Two announcement.

Your accounts will persist and will not be affected. Only your game character data will be purged. Once Phase Two starts, you will be able to login the same as before.

Completed Goals

We are proud to announce that we successfully reached all of our Phase One goals and beyond! Let's briefly recap on our original goals and how we met them.

GameCP and Launcher Public Usage

Tests of our GameCP and Launcher software went as expected. We found a few rough spots in both software and successfully addressed them. There are a few aspects left to address in both, but the core functionality has been confirmed. We are confident with expanding both software without running into any major hurdles or overhauls.

We have logged every bug and feature request received so far. These items will be included in our roadmap and will be addressed throughout future phases and up until our release. We didn't update as much during Phase One as we were focused on game design decisions after confirming initial usability, but we promise bug fixes and more features are on the way!

Leveling Curve Difficulty

This aspect went about as expected as well. While we expected some difficulty progressing through certain parts of the early game, players were able to progress up through level 20 with relative ease.

Most players reached level 20 within 5-10 hours of play time. Players reaching 25-30 took a little longer at 10-20 hours of playtime. Some players worked on their PTs more than others and have longer playtime for similar levels, but this shows through via their public PT stats being higher than others.

Some players reached 30 and beyond within 10-15 hours, but as player level increases, player focus on PT increases. More time farming was also required to find level appropriate gear. Most players who reached level 35+ have 50-60 hours total play time.

Overall this test was successful as we obtained the data we need to fine-tune the leveling curve in accordance with our future goals.

Item Drop Rates and Farming Time

Perhaps the area we focused on most were item drops. This is largely in part due to drops being one of the main factors driving in-game economy.

On day one we semi-removed what is known as the dot system. Monster status bars have dots to indicate the monster level in comparison to yours. Default RF logic also uses this dot system to indicate the best time to farm a given monster.

For example, in default RF logic, the best farming spots for your player would be monsters that show around 4 dots. If your level difference is showing higher or lower than this range, your effective drop rate is reduced. This can make it incredibly difficult to farm for specific items in the game if your level difference is too high.

With our adjustment, you will receive the same drop rate killing a Flem at level 50 as you would killing it at level 1. This allows players to back-track to lower level monsters to assist with farming specific gear without needing to create farming alts.

What went "wrong"?

Testers will remember early on that while our drop rates were set to 1x, drops felt much higher than 1x. This ultimately was expected and we left it like that to get a baseline for our later changes.

The cause of this problem is default RF uses a combination of a loot rate in addition to an operation count to determine which rows to trigger drops for. If a row is triggered, a random item from the row list is selected as the drop. Some default item rows such as white gear and booty utilize high operation counts, such as 10-25. This means that for a given row and rate, with an operation count of 25, the game would repeat the chance for you 25 times. Since you were now receiving a 100% effective drop rate at every level, this caused rows with high operation counts to trigger more often than designed.

If this system sounds a little confusing, well that's because quite frankly it is. It is near impossible to balance drops against an always changing effective loot rate. This is also related to why other RF servers have sporadic drops and typically work around this by setting loot rates really high. The problem with this is it doesn't allow you to set an effective global drop rate, which is something that is absolutely required to establish any real level of economy.

How did we fix it?

Our team spent a lot of time effectively refactoring the entire looting rows. All rows, except booty, were set to an operation count of 1. Booty rows were set to an operation count of 2. Since you were now receiving 100% effective drop rate at all levels, limiting the operation counts allows us to define drop percentages that players will actually experience in-game, rather than us defining a rate and the effective in-game rate being higher or lower depending on your level, and sporadic because of high operation counts.

We are now able to set a particular row to a specific rate, and the result is this is the exact rate you will experience killing that monster in-game in any situation. This gives us complete and consistent control over what items drop and how frequently you will obtain them. This also allows us to make specific changes that will encourage a constantly flowing economy, something most RF servers are lacking. We can also now adjust drop rates for specific types of items in a few seconds rather than a few days.

We strongly suggest all RF servers to adopt this model. It takes a little bit of work, but the end result is a much more consistent farming experience. We also feel this is a very significant quality of life improvement.

The rates we have set are still just a baseline. We have noted all drop feedback and we will continue to make adjustments to drops until we find the right balance of farming time, currency gain, and player quality of life.

Additional Loot Changes

In addition to drop rates, towards the end of Phase One we started playing with adjusting levels of gear dropped by monsters. We made this change to assist with more streamlined player progression.

To us it doesn't make sense to be farming your level-appropriate quest monsters but obtaining gear that is well beyond your level. On a low rate design, this can lead to gear filling your bags that you may not be able to use until hours or days later. We feel it is more appropriate for players to receive item drops closer to their actual level when following normal quest progression.

We are still working on fine-tuning our level adjustment algorithm. Since a human cannot realistically make this many changes by hand, our team created a tool to do the work for us. There are certain problems with doing it this way but we are working through them one by one. This is related to why testers currently see Normal and Type B gear about where it should be, but Type A and a few others are still at their original levels. This is also related to why ACE monsters currently drop similar items as normal monsters.

We are continuing to work on our drop calculations leading up and into Phase Two. We plan to have them fully finalized by the start of our next phase.

Moving On

Thanks to our testers being so thorough and detailed, we learned a lot more than we expected, and we progressed more than we planned.

We can't thank everyone enough for spending your time assisting with building PlayRF. To everyone, from in-game testers, to community members watching and waiting patiently on Discord, we just want to say that we really appreciate all of you.

When you hear from us again, we will be covering the schedule and goals of Phase Two.

See you again soon!