Overview and Illustrations

 

GMs have rarely said much publicly about goals and challenges facing any proposed post-cap system, or at least rarely much recorded on the official forums. One of the earliest comments I could find in 2013 suggested that post-cap wouldn’t have mechanical benefits at all:

We are very aware of the “problem” [of running out of relevant skills to train] and it is not really a design flaw either, but a matter of players advancing far faster than Development team can make new carrots for the players to chase around.

But yeah, I’d give up on the notion of cross-profession abilities, or largely just mechanical advantages.

-GS4-CONTEMPLAR (November 13, 2013)

This is no longer necessarily true, as it’s been implied more recently that at least minor mechanical benefits are possible:

Given the point of 240 [Spirit Slayer], we could potentially add another 10 or so bolt AS for wizards as a post-cap development ability to ensure the[y] have the highest persistent bolt AS.

-GS4-ESTILD (December 24, 2018)

But maybe this comes with a caveat, as both years ago and now GMs discuss the potential of boredom if mechanical benefits are offered.

The major problem I see with mechanical advantages is that they will simply make the game easier for you, which would get boring fast unless we implemented uber-post-cap areas to hunt in. It doesn’t resolve any concerns posted in this thread if the game doesn’t get overhauled to support it. I don’t see that (GS5?) happening in the near future (if at all).

-GS4-MARSTREFORN (November 12, 2013)

Adding overpowered abilities alone is pointless. Most extreme capped characters find hunting existing grounds trivial. Adding other spell lists, or 3xing all skills, or whatever else on top of those “trivial” grounds would create an even bigger problem of boredom because the challenge would be gone. Know how long a person plays a game once they’ve enabled godmode? Not long.

Any post cap rewards system has to be paired with new challenges. While you may envision us flipping a switch somewhere to open up 2xing weapons for mages, or whatever, and delaying out of spite or something, it’s neither a quick or easy problem to solve. It’s basically creating a sub-game within an existing game and balancing new and old abilities against each other.

It’s also not something we can piecemeal as any post cap challenges would be too much for those without post cap skillsets, so there would be rioting to downtweak challenges until abilities were released – doubling the effort to release and balance them. Alternatively releasing the goals first just leads to more boredom and those same people you’re investing a ton of resources and work for are no longer around to benefit from the effort.

-GS4-VIDUUS (December 25, 2018)

Challenges

 

Players don’t necessarily accept the reasoning, however.

If your premise were accurate, it stands to reason that the players of the more powerful professions would already be bored while the players of “underprivileged” classes would be having a blast. Of course, this logic is completely ridiculous when framed in this way. Increasing power and offering new abilities does not automatically lead to boredom. As with any other design, there’s a right way and wrong way.

-BLACKKOBOLD (November 12, 2013)

I’m actually going to dispute that [people stop playing after they’ve enabled godmode]. […]

I know a decent number of people (including me) whose capped hunting is 90%+ of the time either bandits, group Reim, group warcamps, arena, or something else noticeably easier than “real” capped hunting. Even pre-cap, it’s often true that when people ask for advice in chat about where to hunt, they’re asking about the easiest possible hunting. 

So for at least some of the community, progression is a driving force with or without challenge. […]

I don’t think it is true that needing newer, harder post-cap hunting grounds should be a factor in delaying post-cap abilities.

-LEAFIARA (December 28, 2018)

I think folks get bored with hunting because it becomes overly tedious or frustrating, not because it’s too easy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say hunting kobolds or rats is boring, but anyone that knows what they’re doing is essentially in god mode out of the gate because of how easy those foes are.

-ALLENM20 (December 28, 2018)

I think a component of this, though, is that with kobolds or rats you still have a sense of progression. I love racing through bad guys on my journey to somewhere. Once I’m already capped, I don’t think I would enjoy it anymore because where’s the pay off? It’s not in achieving the next level.

-ARMYJEN (December 29, 2018)

A Possible Model

Let’s take a look at response to what might be the most detailed GM involvement ever seen in a post-cap topic on the forums:

 

I saw someone mentioned (forgot exactly who brought it up) about the power creep of post cap as it currently stands. I am interested in the player’s view of how to address this (yes, I have my own ideas about this) and what would be considered acceptable, or rage-quit potential.

The question is would players accept a down-tweak in the ability to train in skills past cap? Such that, you stop training in skills once you’ve capped (for an example!) and stop gaining training points as well. Now I understand fully that this would drastically affect many things, especially the players that are at max capped potential already. However, as much as I know that would not be something those players would welcome, but the trade off there would be the post-cap goals would/should fill in those holes. Maybe not completely, but at least allow for more customization/specializations to occur.

Secondly, along these lines, I am also curious to the issue of what to do with all those folks who are already at max cap, or pretty far along past newly capped? Take away a significant amount of power that they are used to having, and allow them a means to recover some it back again over time through the post-cap system?

-GS4-CONTEMPLAR (December 30, 2018)

The most receptive response came in:

To your question about having a halt to skill training once you reach cap? I would say a hearty YES. Though maybe not AT cap exactly…but maybe 2-3m exp after? Thats a balancing issue that would need to be addressed as what is the best place to stop it? Its a necessary thing. I would go so far as to say you cannot have a proper post-cap WITHOUT a limit such as this.

-FUDGEHJ (December 30, 2018)

But far more numerous were those strongly opposed or cautiously pessimistic. We’ll start with those opposed and then move more toward the middle ground:

My main, Menos, has near as makes no difference hit that full training point. I’ve invested enough time into the character to have leveled 6 characters. Erasing the results of tens of thousands of hours of playing a character would surely fall in “not welcome” category.

-MENOS (Dec. 30, 2018)

Given the monumental amount of time these players have already invested, I would strongly advise against these solutions. If a player has already invested years, taking away their progress and telling them they can spend a few more years to earn some of it back is not going to be well-received.

-BLACKKOBOLD (Dec. 30, 2018)

First impression? This would be a complete disaster for the game.

Taking away something that people have spent literally hundreds if not thousands of hours acquiring, only to offer them the opportunity to spend hundreds if not thousands of more hours to get it back, sort of?

[…] We don’t have the playerbase we used to have. I can’t say for certain that the game would in any meaningful way survive such a change.

-AVAIA (Dec. 30, 2018)

I too would not like to give up what I have earned, the main mage is now at 30m exp.

All of those TPs were won over the course of a couple of decades without scripts or uber gear so I feel that I have earned every benefit.

[…] Do not get me wrong, there is a point of diminishing returns and I have pretty much reached it (Dodging for mages anyone?), but I would like the bar set fairly high for another cap.

-VUWH60A (Dec. 30, 2018)

Players should be able to choose (I’m big on choice) to participate in the DA/T (Descend Ascend / Transcend) process. One would most likely choose to DA/T based on perceived immediate values, then based on immediate perceived loss, then based on perceived longer-term potential.

Giving something up (let’s arbitrarily say 2.5M experience and associated skills, for grins) would have to be measured against some gain (let’s say, awe-inspiring power that automatically causes a rank 1 critical to any opposed being in the room, and a rank 5 to any opposed being foolish enough to touch physically).

[…] Just suggesting, in this case, though, that I give up the last 20 years of accomplishment for a potential to regain some of it (even when bundled with presumably different / new) over the next 20? That one doesn’t fire up the ‘adventure’ button enough to offset the ‘risk’ button. Nor, frankly, the ‘loyalty’ button.

Packaging will be everything.

-DOUG (December 30, 2018)

On the surface this doesn’t excite me a whole lot but I suppose it all depends on what would be offered in exchange! 🙂 I have two characters that I have taken from level one to past cap (with more on the way!) and the post cap training is something that I find enjoyable for them. When training from 1-100 you have a somewhat set / core training plan. It is post cap where you get to finally expand out into some of the ‘fun’ additional abilities that you couldn’t afford previously.

Not saying it couldn’t work for me but I suspect that if the replacement for post cap training wasn’t awe inspiring and really fun / exciting in some way that was meaningful to each profession then I’d probably just look to move on to something different at that point (not in any sort of rage-inspired sort of way, just in a greener pastures / more fun for my time sort of way).

I’d really like to see post cap add on to the existing mechanics that are in place vs. having to take something existing away in order to offer it. To be clearer, I’m not looking for more skill and stat boost as part of any new post cap offering (I don’t need more AS, DS, etc. as it is) but instead looking for interesting abilities, QOL expansions, etc.

-PEREGRINEFALCON (December 30, 2018)

I’d be very wary of this approach. Partly because I’m not sure there’s a collective idea of what’s important, but mostly because even if there were, I don’t want to do anything to hurt people who value skill X or Y that the majority doesn’t care about.

[In] post-cap discussions–and I’m completely guilty of it too[…] we [often] focus on power to the exclusion of any other considerations. 2x First Aid isn’t power per se, for example, but for some people it’s still a motivating form of progression[…] with Leafi I’m actually really looking forward to[…] 1x Stalking & Hiding[…] no combat use for a cleric, but just because her character’s playful[…]

The only way I could see a hard cap on exp (or training points earned) even possibly going over well would be if it happens at 55m or something else so high that almost everybody (and even then definitely not everybody) feels truly “done” and is okay with [trading off] not being able to train mental lore on their warrior or sorcerous lore on their bard to gain some more interesting alternative.

-LEAFIARA (December 30, 2018)

based on my experiences […] there are significant benefits still on the table when you freshly cap a wizard or a paladin character. Suggesting that I roll back post cap advancement on Faulkil (my capped wizard), for example, would mean giving up the following post cap training that I’ve worked on:

– Real CS and DF gains due to being fully 3x trained in spells.

– Enough mana to cast whatever spells I want in combat vs. having to be ‘mana efficient with every cast’ (508 max mana with 96 mana gained off node due to 3x training in HP and 2x training in EMC) […]

– Ability to forage well (1x Perception, 1x survival) – very useful if you are an active alchemist. […]

– Ability to effectively navigate (and hunt) the confluence (1x Survival and 1x Climbing).

[list of 9 other benefits]

[…] I’m not convinced that a post cap reward system that replaces post cap skill training would effectively mitigate the loss of the above (and additional benefits from skill training that I didn’t think to include).

[…] This is one of the things that I have truly enjoyed about Gemstone over the past couple of decades – the ability to put in effort and gain rewards that aren’t simply tossed out the window 6 months down the road so you can start over again. It is probably the primary reason that I am still playing this game after so many years.

-PEREGRINEFALCON (December 31, 2018)

And here’s some back and forth over the disagreements:

Would people really rather […] be like ‘Yay I got 3 more water lore/Stalking & Hiding ranks!’ than be like ‘Yay now all my bolts have increased critical damage versus undead since I chose the ‘Undead hunter’ perk!’

-FUDGEHJ (Dec. 30, 2018)

As long as there’s anyone who’d prefer the Water lore or hiding ranks, I have a real problem with getting rid of those options.

-LEAFIARA (Dec. 30, 2018)

I think these responses are a great example of why we will not be getting a post-cap system.

People seem happy with what they have, and unwilling to change. Those who are willing to change? The things they want vary so wildly it becomes very hard to build a system that a majority would like.

[…] Many people (capped and non-capped!) are waiting for a Post-cap system and if it isnt something they are happy with, there is a real risk they will just leave. Because why stick around if the endgame isnt something you enjoy? Its a reasonable stance.

[…] Better to just keep things as they are. The people who are playing will mostly continue to play, and the hard cap is so far in the future, multiple years, for many…plus very many people who play regularly who havent even capped yet…and there is really no reason or reward to get a post-cap system out and developed.

Cause…well, you guys like it the way it is. Or at least like it enough to keep playing and not want something different.

-FUDGEHJ (December 31, 2018)

Obviously, players are not happy with what they have or we wouldn’t be discussing post-cap development in the first place. The fact that we haven’t reached consensus on how to address the issue is not confirmation that the problem doesn’t exist. Further, just because we haven’t arrived at the answer yet doesn’t mean that there is only one solution.

-BLACKKOBOLD (December 31, 2018)

Next Section

 

Given that the primary dilemma for GMs seems to revolve around making characters too powerful, Part 9 looks at proposals that would increase the power ceiling very little or not at all.

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Leafi

Leafi reports on current events in and around Wehnimer’s Landing, where she can often be found dashing about day and night! She also hosts public Town Hall meetings in the Landing and helps with numerous TownCrier projects behind the scenes, including entirely too many proposals that create more work for Luxie. Does this lass’s troublemaking know no end?