Scaled Content and Reward Systems Ideoblog

So the problem is coming up with a rewards scheme, huh?

Let’s think about all the rewards that exist in the game already, and consider how well they’d work for scaled content:

  • Transmogrifiable gear, which is purely cosmetic armor.
    • Pros: Xmog gear was a good carrot for gold challenge modes, and a good opportunity to flex unique armor models, so that’s proof-of-concept.
    • Cons: Most people running old content now are doing it to get xmog gear drops. There’s also the problem where it contributes to bank bloat, and taxing the art/model team in creating more armor.
  • Progression gear, which is meant to be used in current content.
    • Pros: This would put scaled content into competition with new content as a timesink.
    • Cons: This would put scaled content into competition with new content as a gearing mechanism, which Chilton specifically says they don’t want to do.
  • Heirloom gear, which scales with level and is meant to be used by alts for fast leveling.
    • Pros: Heirloom gear, whether from spending JP, Faire tickets, guild achievements or killing the shit out of Garrosh is pretty roundly considered a cool thing.
    • Cons: Heirloom is already pretty well in-place, and has been more frequently upgraded to cover non-current level curves, meaning it’s already pretty well-saturated. Adding more is just bank bloat.
  • Points (Justice/Valor/Honor/Conquest), which are meant to be spent getting gear used at certain levels of PVE/PVP content.
    • Pros: Just as daily quests became an avenue to trickle in some VP gains, scaled content providing VP could be a compelling avenue to make them rewarding without directly competing with current content…
    • Cons: …but the problem with dailies providing VP, along with all of their other issues, was that people felt that an avenue for VP gains meant it was all the more necessary to hit the cap. You also run into the issue where collecting VP in scaled dungeons has to measured against the VP/hour and VP/effort from scenarios, challenge modes, LFR, heroic dungeons, and Flex/N/HM raiding. And that’s just issues on the Valor end; Justice points being useless and doing PVE content to get top-end PVP gear are just the tip of the iceberg besides.
  • Charms, which are used to get bonus rolls on raid drops and/or used in the Treasure Run solo scenario.
    • Pros: Charms are a low-impact reward, since they only provide a chance at gear, which still requires you to complete current content to get that shot. And don’t contribute to bank bloat.
    • Cons: This is going to be a good reward unless you’re someone who really hates getting a Fail Bag when using a coin.
  • Gold, which is… well, gold. Self-evident.
    • Pros: Pretty much everything that isn’t acquired by killing something, spending points, or spending money on the AH takes gold. So it’s pretty broadly useful…
    • Cons: …but it’s also pretty easy to come by otherwise, in addition to being the thing that shows up most of the time in the Fail Bag. And if the reward is too juicy, it only contributes to huge gold inflation, which is never good for server economies.
  • Mounts & pets, which are purely cosmetic bonuses.
    • Pros: These are used pretty frequently as rewards, especially for people who love a unique look or are compulsive collectors, and don’t contribute to bank bloat. The Raiding with Leases achievement series has been pretty successful in that respect.
    • Cons: The chance at mount and pet drops are already used for some dungeons, so it’s not exactly new.  And for the amount of content we’re talking, that’s a lot of work creating new rewards or reskinning existing ones.
  • Tabards, which are cosmetic.
    • Pros: Easy method to show off completion of a thing without having to link an achievement…
    • Cons: …but it contributes to bank bloat, usually clashes with xmog, and isn’t very exciting, especially if it doesn’t do anything useful.
  • Titles, which are also cosmetic.
    • Pros: Great way to display completion of a thing that shows up in the nameplate rather than on the character, and doesn’t contribute to bank bloat.
    • Cons: Titles getting thrown out like candy deflates their value and importance, and introduces a new kind of bloat.

So I can really see why the devs are having problems coming up with how to do a good rewards system here. Because you have to consider that scaling content is going to require a level of coordination that’s likely somewhere between heroic dungeons and raiding, and a time investment that, in some cases, is going to be as long as what’s employed for current raiding content. You want to make sure players feel like they’re not wasting their time, but you also have to make sure they know “hey guys, you’re going to get the real rewards doing current raiding, not this throwback stuff.”

Looking at all of that, I’m thinking that killing bosses ought to reward a Satchel that can contains Charms, Justice and/or Valor, gold, and perhaps a lower chance of drop mounts that are usually available from the bosses in that dungeon. The charms incentivize running current content as well, so you can use them, the Justice/Valor help justify the time investment (by contributing to acquiring gear for whatever endgame content you’re working), the gold helps zero out the durability costs incurred during the experience, and the mount drops put a big RNG carrot that’s got greater apparent availability.

I worry a lot about other vanity items or even the “clear Silver and get the ability to teleport to the instance” carrot that’s used for Challenge Dungeons, because I worry about bank bloat and about giving players too many teleports. But even I think that there needs to be a more unique reward for running scaled content to compel players to do it.

Off the cuff (and in combination with all the player housing fantasies that players have had since forever) there’s the idea that running scaled dungeons would give you progress towards a trophy of the dungeon that you could prop up in your player-house. That helps to give a unique and tangible rewards for the player while also creating gameplay for player housing that doesn’t already exist. (But honestly, I never was one of the cats holding out for player housing, which was why I loved the Sunsong Ranch so much.)

What do you think could work as a reward for scaled content? Let me know in the comments!

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