Well it seems Firefall, the game of the perpetual beta and internal tinkering has once again decided to change core mechanics of the crafting system. Sometimes I wish most games had an iterative period this extensive and inclusive but another part of me just gives that terribly long-winded sigh of just wishing they could finalise things and keep fixing bugs and making content instead. When they do deign to create for the game I like how it continually improves on the core aspects, I’m also hankering for the patch that is going to let us push back the Melding within Diamond Head permanently to reveal more space to roam, more events and such, and those sweet sweet rewards for excellence.
I’ve even been holding back playing Firefall lately solely because I know when that patch hits I’m going to be playing a lot… A LOT and don’t want to burn myself out because of it. It’s kind of like going hungry on purpose because you know the family is going to an amazingly awesome buffet and you don’t want to ruin the beautiful binge. But it has once again been pushed back to a later patch. le sigh
What they have changed does sound interesting although I don’t exactly know how I feel about some of the changes quite yet.
The consistency and frequency of loot drops has become less likely now and I think that is a decent change. It puts more emphasis on the crafting system, either making things or buying off the Ah as a way of getting gear. At the moment it does sometimes seem a bit too frequent; grenade launchers are in such abundance that I end up vendoring most of them and I’ve pretty much nearly kitted my alt frames in a collection of tier 1 and 2 gear just from regularly playing my Dragonfly. That’s not much but it’s a big improvement over stock and one I never had to work for.
The second change is going to be the removal of the secondary components from the crafting system, things like animal and chosen DNA that often served as a roadblock to crafting and a restriction to how much of certain types of items you could craft. While I have had times of frustration having to farm up his so DNA for my Frames and crafted items as both my engi and Dragonfly need a lot of hisser DNA I don’t think that is a good thing. We haven’t heard much about how the system will compensate for the change, I imagine the cost of resources and crystite will go up but since the drop rate of these items has been greatly improved in recent weeks it doesn’t serve as the needless irritation it used to. I’m still crafting as often as my resources and time allows and DNA is no longer the limiter it used to be.
Once you get to know the crafting system it isn’t overly complex and this one extra component really doesn’t change how confusing the system is but changing it seems to break a lot of the interest to the system and some of the gameplay surrounding it as well. In my mind simplification is not the answer to all problems, especially not when it comes to a sandbox type system. You want players to think and become immersed into the systems rather than it just being the streamlined and simplistic, it’s a focal point of the game and as such should be more elaborate.
They will also be adding in inputs for other components now as a way of modifying the effect of the skills and weapons in unique ways, and I love this incoming change but I still want there to be a variety of components needed. It is kind of nice having a shopping list of materials in a way and then going off to gather them all up. Getting those materials actually created gameplay for people, myself included as you would hunt the map and farm particular materials. Yes farm, grind away killing particular mobs and while this sort of thing doesn’t seem to be in vogue at the moment it’s a very valuable mechanic occasional. It’s hard to balance between player interest and the demands of investment but omitting such an act entirely seem problematic.
Farming for certain materials can be a focal point for community, common goals and materials encourage people to group and chat as a way of enjoying the time more and making it more efficient. I even made a friend after finding a group to farm threshers with because they are better to hunt as a group and we actually had a good time doing it and thought why not get together again some time. It had also become the one mechanic that really encouraged people to thump a solely rely on the rewards from Ares missions. Thumping is/was a way of ensuring a certain amount of the enemy and dna you needed to gather, and it so happened to dump it all in one spot for you while also rewarding you resources for the thump itself. It was efficient and worked well in combination with the other mechanics of the game.
Also to be honest, I’m loath to see this slow progress of development towards the casualification of Firefall. I have not seen the proof that it can create a long term sustainable population for an mmo, in fact it seems to be opposite of that. The game is free to play already so it isn’t a far step away but even if they wanted to they would once again have to iterate on core mechanics which would set the development back even further, being that the lack of content has been the focus of most negative reviews from hardcore and casual alike then well that is probably not a good idea. MMO’s very rarely get second chances (putting reborn in the title being the exception) and now is the time to make that first impression of what your games like and how good your updates will be.