Crafter's Roundtable: The Terminus Express

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Yup. It's time for another Crafter's Roundtable, where we ask all of our crafters what their opinions are about an important topic for Pantheon! As always, the point of these questions is to promote discussion among the community, and maybe something insightful or awesome will emerge that VR can leverage as they build the game. Let's get to it, then.

The question:

Today's topic is a deceptively simple question: How should the in-game mail system work? Or, should there even be one?


We asked our website staff to weigh in on this to help get discussion started, and here's what they had to say.

From Khaleesi:

If there is mail - can we send advertisements? Maybe I can make a postcard with a key to a brand new chest taped to it!

If I say that it's a truckload / tent sale that is going to leave town with all of the good deals, maybe everybody in Terminus will come to buy a 147k mile used chest instead. And if nobody shows up with the winning key, all the better.

From Trasak:

Mail systems usually combine two concepts into one, a long term message document system and a parcel service.

A long term message document system aka in game email vs temporary text chat messages is perfectly fine. I would have the in game email just be a part of the ui and not have any in game mechanics. I could see Khaleesi's idea as a function of the email system but I would change it more condensed daily or weekly flier that all advertisements are grouped together and the size and prominence of the add is based on how much you paid. This way the email would just be a link to a specific XML page rather than everyone having their own copy of all the images for data storage purposes.

A parcel service on the other hand is a lot trickier. Parcel services, especially instantaneous, tend to defeat the localization that VR has been targeting for Pantheon especially if mailboxes are common and full service.

If I were to include a parcel service in the game it would be costly, limited in drop off and pick up points and weight dependent but with flat item minimums. Similar to RL parcel services I would have a window of time for drop off that equates to a different pickup time at another parcel service location. The player would need to arrive at the new location to pick up their deliveries and cart it to the local warehouse/bank they wanted to store it in. In the future I could see an option to deliver the items to player housing for an added fee.

Additionally after a time non picked up items would go onto the the public repo vendor. This would help limit the number of items in the parcel system at any one time. I remember at one point WoW had to do a major patch to change their mail system hardware and data structure due to the raw data impact of people using their mail as a storage system.

From Autherial:

I am not against a mail delivery system in game as long as it does not detract from the role play element of the game. For instance I don't want to see a mail system like wow etc, I am thinking more along the lines of a courier system. Where either you get a notification the courier npc has mail for you in a particular town, or you could make it to where everyone gets a global message that the courier is in town and you can travel to him to gather your mail. I am weary of anything that detracts from the social element of the game.

From Nephele:

So when I think about a mail system, like Trasak, I think about a few different concepts that get combined into the same interface.

First, there's the ability to send text messages to people who may not be online, that they can read later. I feel like this is really important to have - I mean sure, most of us are part of 27 different Discord servers but there's no guarantee that we'll be in a shared Discord with that person we just met in game 3 days ago. So, some kind of in-game letter functionality is important, and it would be nice to see it not be restricted to only people on your friends list, or something like that.

Then there's item delivery. I think item delivery between players is important to have, just because people's play schedules differ. You can't always be online at the same time as someone else to meet them and trade something to them. So being able to send them a package with the item in it helps tremendously.

From an economic perspective, I'm ok with reasonable limitations on a mail system (when it comes to item deliveries) so that it doesn't turn into an easy way for players to bypass regional markets. For example, limiting the number of items you can attach to a single mail, or instituting a longer delay (or an additional delivery fee, or both) if the recipient is on a different continent when the package is sent. I wouldn't want those restrictions to be so heavy that they make "selling" an item via mail completely impractical, but they shouldn't be things you can ignore either.

Finally, I'd really like to see the mail system represented in-world. Instead of us only ever seeing a magic box that you put things in and/or take things out of, I'd love to see courier NPCs out on the roads traveling between towns. I'm not saying that we should be able to attack them and steal other people's mail or anything like that, but if the game's going to have a mail system, let's make that mail system a visible and believable part of the world, rather than just a UI feature that's never explained. In the real world, there are post offices and mail carriers because stuff doesn't arrive at its destination by magic. The same should be true, from a lore/immersion perspective, in Terminus.

That's enough from us, now let's hear from everyone else! How do you think Pantheon's in-game mail system should work? Or, should there even be one?
 

Barin999

Journeyman
@Khaleesi When it comes down to how a mailingsystem is used, that would be up to the player. I'm not sure how the design of the mailing mechanism could "block" this kind of use. But you're making a good point.
This multirecipient mailingsystem should be available as it could make guild or friend announcements very easy. (if they aren't already using other media to communicate with each other; website, discord, social media).
On the other side of it, one should be able to block player from receiving "spam or unwanted messages". Some sort of filter system would be advisable.

As a crafter there could be potential for the use of the mailingsystem, then again I can see players using the channels to announce their new stash of goods for sale. You'ld reach more players in less effort, but it would not remain visible. So in fact this mailingsystem could be seen as a visible reminder with limited time use.

@Trasak I would go the other way around. Write the story as such that these two services can be used seperatly. They can be of the same institution, but are two individual things one can approach. A mailingsystem that can deliver messages and products into one, is very easy for the dev's to design. But it carries little weight when it comes to story or dept of the game. It's just overall convenience. I can dig a wizard or animal station to carry parcels, but a magical mailbox making the chestpiece that I placed in there, dissappear..is convienent but really seems a bit too cheap. Why not put that bit extra effort in it and construct something around it.

I understand that it's very easy if one can sent message purely by using it's User Interface in wherever location that player might be. It would seem a missed opportunity, for me, to give this game a little extra touch. The game can have mailboxes or postmen spread out over Terminus. So you'ld have frequent opportunities to sent messages if you wish. You'ld just have to interact with an game-content to achieve that, instead of purely using UI to sent your message.

For one; one can not generate content purely motivated from a UI standpoint. Quests, assignments, novelities (read expansions) can be linked to the mailingsystem itself. And this allows the dev's for more difference in their content creation. They don't have to, but if you don't design the option for it, you'll never be able to fill in that option as time goes on. You can not remove the UI-mailsystem, just because you want to create content for players using a new mailsystem later on in game. If you see where I'm going with this.
Content envolving mailing content, could be phased, cyclical or geographically different. All these things can write up a nice story behind it and give Terminus more dept. A player might need to remove the threat in the north, before they can sent mails to that region (figuratively), or need to cure or otherwise aid a npc courier. Or even just fix or place new mailboxes across the world, and ones they've done that, the player can use these newly placed boxes. Connecting the player with the world even more.

Concerning the Parcel delivery system, that might be from the same organisation, but is different way of interaction for the player; I'll just link what I've posted earlier.
https://www.pantheoncrafters.com/threads/delivery-services.244/

I understand that you give the player a timewindow to pick up the parcel. I would allow the players to not miss out on the parcels. Because, one just doesnt know what Real life throws at you. You might lose the parcels, just because something in real life prevented you to log in. The player should not be suffering from that.
Your idea would still stand if indeed, the player gets a message to pick it up in time. If they do, they'll have to pay a fee, which is less expensive then when they are not in time to pick it up. However, when the player is too late, the parcel remains at it's destination at an npc. The player can still pick it up, but the fee is just a little higher.

I like your idea of the parcel being sent to homes for an extra fee. That makes sense, as not everyone would do it and again it would stimulate player interaction in a subtle way. What is important here, is that the homedelivery system is costly and remains costly as expansions and moneyflow shifts. If it becomes redundant, the players will not leave their homes or venture to those courierservices and you'ld actually lose a chance for community interaction. (As we see in real life, people just don't get out of the door anymore.) This is a very risky design choice and should be well thought out, to my opinion. I'ld rather see it not happing as a homedelivery system, then risk losing interaction in this mmo. As the MMO side of things is prior to an ingame mailingsystem (read: convenience design).

I would favour, a restriction to items being on the road at the same time. The question here is, would you put it on the recipient or on the one doing the postings?
A quick answer, yes it can be expanded as players go through content or earn faction/standings with this mailingservice. To a degree.
I'ld go for the weight factor. If I'm a guildleader and I want to sent all my guildmembers some eggnog during the holidays, I should be able to. But I should not be able to sent out 40 chain mail chests. So from a design perspective: each message is being remembered to the weight it has. Messages have no weight, but coin or other products have. (This is in case the weight mechanic is in the game at all.)
One should NOT be able to sent to themselves. And depending on the banking system, you don't need to restrict how many items can be waiting in your mailbox. If the banking system is restrictive as wel, then one has to look at mailingrestrictions. Messages can be saved, but like you suggested earlier @Trasak , over a certain timerperiod, the parcels could be diverted to an npc. Now this npc could become another storageabuse. So to prevent that from happening, one could say: "You're not able to mail this percipient, their mailbox is full."

A fair amount of messages allowed at one time could be; 12-15. No matter the weight, so 15 messages stored would result in my mailbox being full. And no new messages or parcel can be sent to this player.

@Autherial Yep, I hear ye.
https://www.pantheoncrafters.com/threads/delivery-services.244/
Fingers crossed they go for it.

@Nephele Enabling in game messages to be sent to players that are currently offline makes sense. And most not be forgotten. In fact I don't see a reason why they would not design that in the game.
And yes to an ingame mailing-organisation being placed out in to Terminus.
 
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