The new experimental strategy ArenaNet seems to be going with is pre-warning the players what to expect for the next patch, what with John Smith chiming in on expected economy disequilibrium and Josh Foreman sharing some of the design philosophy behind the Super Adventure Box’s Tribulation Mode.
From what he hinted, it’s going to seem like bad design because the rabidly hard platforming genre tends to use intrinsically unfair tricks.
(Perhaps they’ve gotten tired of players continually posting up TV Trope’s FakeDifficulty page on the forums after the Queen’s Gauntlet.)
It’s going to use up a lot of lives via very arbitrary deaths while the player learns via repeated trial and error what not to do and where not to step, and those lives in turn may have to be saved up / prepared / “ground” out via plays of an easier mode.
To this, I only have the following questions and statements:
- What is the iteration time between attempts?
- How long am I going to have to wait before trying out a new strategy?
- Surely you are not going to make me watch a whole bunch of other players be a whole lot better at the minigame than I am and rub that salty fact in before I can try again?
From imperfect memory the last time the SAB came around, death via falling into a bottomless chasm blacked out your screen then started you off at the nearest checkpoint.
The SAB is also an instance that can be entered solo, unlike the Mad King’s Clock Tower and Winter Wonderland, where one did indeed have to wait and watch other players go at it before you got a chance to go again.
I submit my guess that the iteration time should be fairly minimal, except for the possible exception of unskippable cutscenes. We can hope.
The longer my wait, the faster I am going to get frustrated and not bother.
2) Penalty for Failure
- How costly is the death or failure penalty after each no-go attempt?
- Is it going to impact my overall goals in another part of the game?
Failing the Queen’s Gauntlet damaged my armor. If no one rezzed, I had to waypoint and subtract an additional fee. Gold is a ubiquitous and extremely valuable currency that I could be using for a whole lot of other things.
That helped me prioritize very quickly how important striving for a hard-to-reach and costly QG goal was to me, in comparison to say, a new set of exotic gear for an alt, buying components for a Legendary, or buying cultural armor and dyes and luxury miniatures.
(It also took a ticket, but the tickets dropped like candy and had only two purposes to compare – earn gold via a simpler fight or spend it on achieving something hard.)
Again, based on previous SAB experiences, failure is going to eat up a life. When you run out of lives, you will have to endure a slightly longer continue screen then it’s going to eat up a continue coin. Lives are earned inside the specific game itself and continue coins can be bought via baubles earned within the game, and last time anyway, were earned via jumping puzzle chest reward as well.
I like that the currency is specific to this minigame alone and that it’s probably not going to turn into a sneaky gold sink or gambling game. That makes things more palatable.
- How exclusive and how desirable are the rewards to be gained via this especially hard difficulty?
- Are there alternate means of getting the same or a similar reward?
- Is that reward going to impact me in other parts of the game (be it through me or another player having it?)
From what has been said so far, the rewards for Tribulation Mode are the same skin, colored differently. This has some exclusivity and prestige factor, in that one will be able to stand out via the different color, but others will still be able to enjoy the weapon model in a more common color.
I personally think this is a good balance to hit, especially if they get the colors right.
Normal mode blue is likely to be good enough for the majority. I like blue. I think a lot of others like blue too.
Red, green, yellow, purple? Ehhhh. Depending on the alt, red might match, I might find a use for green (maybe) and I suppose mesmer types enjoy purple. I dunno about yellow, but yeah.
In fact, I probably wouldn’t mind if super-duper hard mode had a super-duper desirable color like white or black either, AS LONG AS normal mode has something decently pretty looking, like blue. and is glowy.
Skin impact on other parts of the game, we have long established, is negligible or nonexistent. Maybe one day, some extremist players might make a value judgement based on the kind of skin you have, but cosmetics generally make a great reward because how awesome you look tends to be a great deal more important to yourself than other players.
Tribulation Mode is likely to have its own separate achievements. Maybe a title, maybe not. Titles also fall under the cosmetic banner for me. It’s something to show off for players who like that sort of thing, but doesn’t affect how hard you hit or how desirable your character is for a certain type of content.
Achievements once upon a time were similar, but it’s gotten more into edge territory what with overall achievement point rewards. There are other ways to gain AP, of course, but it’s also undeniable that a player who can do some content that gives AP has the potential to have -more- than another player who can’t. I’ll wait to see the quantity of AP one can gain via this mode as compared to that played on normal mode before forming an opinion.
Stat-based rewards are unlikely to apply for the SAB, but it’s still worth putting the possibility out there in case a future type of minigame/activity/content type shows up one day (raiding?! *nervous twitch*) and we have to come back to this set of questions. Rewards with stats have the potential to be the most divisive and affect a level playing field balance. (All eyes are on Ascended crafting at the moment. I frankly don’t understand half of it yet, am waiting to see how it works and what the drop rates are.)
4) Time and Access
- How much time is it likely to take me to get through the content?
- Is the content once-off temporary, recurring or permanently a part of the game?
Players get very bitter when they have to attempt hard mode content on a deadline, within a limited timeframe and told it’ll never come back again, one chance only. It’s my hope that ArenaNet is moving away from one-offs and at least to recurring content, even if we can’t have stuff permanently there and available on demand like in GW1.
SAB, we know, is recurring content, so there are no issues there on that front. Worse case scenario, it’ll come back next year. Preferably sooner.
Tribulation Mode, however, is likely to be extremely time-consuming, so brace for that and evaluate priorities accordingly.
5) Variable Difficulty Levels
- Do you have player-chosen variable difficulty levels where a player can opt out of the extremely hard mode content?
One of the ways to get the bitterest complaints is to include a “forced” aspect to content.
If you don’t do it this way (usually a way the players don’t like), you’ll never get to see the new and novel content – experience the story, witness the world, see the sights and the scenery – and reap its rewards (see point 3 and make it an exclusive, highly desirable cosmetic AND stat-based reward. Or two. And throw in an RNG wrapper rather than the slow-and-steady token earning option.)
Fortunately, the SAB is unlikely to be any of the above.
Is Infantile and Normal Mode still going to be in the SAB?
All signs point to yes.
Then why, we shall have no problem with the existence of Tribulation Mode whatsoever.
I personally doubt I have the masochism for the mode, honestly. I’ll give it a shot or two, then go back to happily wading in the baby pool and enjoying the challenge of normal mode. I’ll wait for the guides and videos to show up, then give it a third shot or five. Then I’ll stop before I drive myself up the wall and focus on other things that make me happy. Like a bevy of miniatures.
But as long as all the points above yield a fair and reasonable answer, where TM is an optional choice that provides just a little extra bonus reward that doesn’t unbalance other playing fields and can eventually be revisited and retried for any account, then hey, I’m glad its there for the folks who enjoy that sort of thing.
(I reserve the right to subjectively change my opinion should my guesses to how it works this time around be wrong, eg. if any changes were made to how the SAB works versus the last time.)