Responses to the Oct. 10th Harvesting update

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Starting a thread for us to discuss how we feel about what we heard in the October 10th newsletter regarding Harvesting. If you have not seen it yet, go here first: https://www.pantheonmmo.com/newsletter/2018_october_harvesting_update/

Please keep in mind that what's stated in the newsletter is not set entirely in stone. It should be relatively obvious from the wording, but there's still a lot of time to go before launch and the developers do listen to our feedback. It's important that we make sure we give them that feedback, especially if we feel like what's being planned might have some problems or fall short.

So with that in mind, how do you feel about what we've just learned?
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
What follows is my personal opinion on the plan for Harvesting, based on this update. I know it seems silly to call that out but since I start a lot of threads in my capacity as an admin and writer for this site, I tend to not voice my own opinion too much, because I don't want to taint discussions or inadvertently influence debates. This topic is big enough however that I don't think I can stay silent, so you all get a disclaimer up front :)

I am moderately disappointed by what I've read about harvesting in this month's newsletter.

Progression and Equipment/Tools

My biggest area of disappointment is that the team seems to be headed towards an approach that does NOT provide much of an equipment progression for harvesting. I feel like this is a mistake. When playing games where you had to pay attention to your harvesting gear (just like your crafting or adventuring gear), I find that I took harvesting much more seriously. If I wanted to maximize my yield or get the high level things, I spent time working on my equipment - whether that was buying or crafting it, or doing quests to get upgrades. As a crafter in those games, I took a lot of pride in making harvesting equipment and tools for others as well. The model of simply having tools only, especially if those tools aren't something you upgrade a few times as you "improve" your harvesting capability, simply does not sit right with me.

What I have been strongly hoping for in terms of Harvesting was a setup similar to Vanguard or FFXIV - where you had a section of your character sheet for harvesting gear (including tools), and you had stats you needed to care about that influenced your harvesting ability, and an experience progression (either levels or skill) where you gained in ability as you did more harvesting.

That brings me to the second area of disappointment: I didn't see anything in the update regarding how your harvesting skills might progress over time, other than the brief mention of maybe needing a better tool at some point. Maybe it's going to be there and just wasn't stated, but with the minimalist approach to equipment, I'm concerned. I want harvesting to be a true sphere of gameplay where players can have the chance to distinguish themselves if they choose, not just a tacked-on side system that everyone does. For that to happen, it needs to be something that takes effort and that people can work at.

Nodes and Resource Distribution

I've seen a few people comment now that they're unhappy about the decision to go with a node-based system. Being honest, I agree with some points that have been made. If we're going with harvesting nodes, I am strongly against having to compete for those nodes. The challenge should be in finding the nodes, not in racing other players to get to them. I'm not against nodes as a concept, but they need to be implemented in a way that's actually fun and engaging for players who spend time looking for them. They also need to be implemented in a way that's less prone to abuse. Having them always spawn in the same general spots, or the same pattern, or the same cycle, is a system that can be abused. If that abuse is competitive, all that's going to do is get players angry with each other.

Vjek had a great post in the supporter forum thread about implementation issues with node-based harvesting. I echo many of his concerns.

To be clear, I'm not opposed to nodes all up. But the implementation needs to be really carefully done.

Another place that I am concerned is that the team seems to have the idea that the nodes + scavenging + salvaging approach will keep materials scarce in the economy. It won't.

Anything that can be farmed in an MMO, will be farmed, as long as there is any value in doing so. It might as well be a universal law of MMO design. Whether it's people spending 12-16 hours every day only harvesting nodes because there's money in it, or worse, running groups of harvesting bots, or funneling all their salvageable items to a single account to break down for resources - it will happen. It's just how players behave. You can make things take longer, of course. But if the only factor that matters is time, it will only be a matter of time before we trivialize any scarcity condition in the game.

I'm not saying that the game shouldn't have a harvesting system or that we should have to spend money at NPC vendors for our resources or anything like that. But, we should accept that if something can be farmed, it will be. That means that if players need massive quantities of resources to build things, they'll get them one way or another. They might not enjoy it much, but they will do it. If they need rare resources, they'll get those too. One way or another. I read a lot of the answers about node dispersion as about trying to balance scarcity, and I don't think that's going to work. I think instead, the game should just be trying to ensure that if someone wants to go mine adamantium ore, they're in for an adventure. Or, more bluntly - if we want a resource type to be rare, it better spawn randomly (and very rarely) in the lair of very nasty beasts. You want that adamantium? Well, get a group, head to the dragon cave, and maybe you'll get lucky... once you've dealt with the dragons.

Now, with all that said, I am in favor of different resources being distributed geographically - why? Because it gets players traveling, and that's a good thing. If you set things up so that players can only get birch on one side of the continent, and pine on the other, you have just created avenues for trade between players. I'm also ok with "tiering" of resources based on the level of the area. However, "tier" should really just translate to "how hard it is to get". I don't want to see a situation where crafters stop needing lower tier resources, ever. They should just need higher tier resources along with the lower tier resources as they progress.

The Harvesting Process and Group Harvesting


In some of the replies on the supporter forums and in various Discords I've seen people concerned that harvesting activity will consist of "whack-a-node", which is ultimately a pretty boring activity. Personally, I'm ok with this approach, but I wouldn't mind seeing a little more of a minigame to things as well. Someone yesterday used the example of Stardew Valley's fishing system where you have to line up a bar for a few seconds to reel in the fish. Let's be honest - fishing should absolutely have some kind of minigame to it, because otherwise we're just standing in the same spot for hours pressing a button. But I would not be too unhappy if other (node) harvesting skills had a bit of a minigame to them as well - especially not if our character progression and gear influenced how easy/hard that minigame was. That being said, I don't view this as a requirement. It would certainly make harvesting more engaging, but I also believe that a big part of harvesting should be moving around, finding the nodes that you harvest.

I was encouraged to see that the team is thinking about Group Harvesting, similar to Vanguard. Being honest here - in every game I've played except Vanguard, Harvesting has been 100% a solo activity. I'd take a few hours on a sunday morning, go out, and chop down trees or mine ore or whatever it was I needed. Relaxing? Totally. Engaging? Sure. Gets really old after a while? Yup.

Group Harvesting changed that equation though. In Vanguard, we'd set up guild harvesting nights, where we all went out together so that we could get better yields. Even if it was just two or three of us, we'd talk and socialize while we gathered stuff, and it made that part of the game a lot more social and a lot more fun for everyone, even us introvert recluses who didn't really mind going off into the woods to chop down trees by ourselves for hours to begin with.

Summing Up

Like I said at the top, I'm moderately disappointed by this update. Don't get me wrong - I'm happy that the team took time to give us an update. I'm happy they've been thinking about it. But, I feel like we're headed in a direction that will not be engaging or fulfilling for players, and that will be a step backwards from what we've seen in other MMOs for the last ten years. That does not sit right with me. I hope I'm wrong, or, failing that, I hope the devs will hear my feedback and others and go look at how they can do something better. We still have a lot of time before launch. And to be fair to them - I understand that they're a small team and that resources have to be prioritized. But what I don't want is for Pantheon to take a minimalist approach to the Harvesting sphere... because it really should be a Sphere - separate from and equal to Crafting and Adventuring.

So, I'm hopeful that this feedback will help convince the team to move in a better or stronger direction. Or, if I've got it all wrong, to come back and clarify their intentions for all of us :)
 
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Trasak

Apprentice
Staff member
Staff Writer
In general I am right there with you. If harvesting skills are only going to be a matter of finding a node and checking to see if you have the right tool in your inventory before collecting it and everyone can have all the harvesting skills then why bother having the skill at all?

Free for all node harvesting plays right into my dislike of designing a crafting system based on spamming the combine button. There is no value added to the ingredients by creating the item if the item is less valuable than the raw materials on the open market and that is what happens in bulk resource based crafting systems.

I would actually prefer to see VR make the “hard choice” and make harvesting skills professions that compete directly with the crafting professions.

I would make:

Prospector: Both finds and extracts metals, clays, stone and gems from different locations. Only prospectors can notice these nodes because they are the only ones with the training. Additionally they can have some form of active skill that helps them “discover” nodes that are not already spawned.

Forester: Foresters can locate good trees to fell and can drive a wagon filled with timber to mills in order to cut them to lumber. Additionally they can find and harvest stands of young growth wood for staves and many of the other smaller process and preprocess the wood to be ready for crafting. Forester is also able to find and collect rare natural materials found out in the wild.

Hunter: The hunter is an expert at finding and harvesting wild game. The provide meat and fish to provisioners, skins to leather workers, and unique animal derived ingredients to alchemists. The hunter actually has was to go to an area and track i.e. force local fauna to spawn that can be killed and harvested.

Basically one harvester for Mineral, one for Plant and one for Animal. Picking one would preclude you from picking a crafting class.

Scavenging can be a general catch all “loot the room” skill that all combat classes can use in addition to just looting corpses.

Salvaging should be a function of the crafting classes and not a harvesting skill. Each item will have a range of professions that can salvage it and based on that profession you get salvage results from a different results table.

This I think would make for a much more engaging system that will limit the inflow of materials while increasing the value of the materials. I would still have the node harvesting process be some form of mini game just like every crafting process should be a mini-game. Mini game harvesting will severely limit the ability of bots to farm nodes.
 
First off, they've given an outline of what they are starting with relating to the topic of harvesting. As I read through the update, they frequently state that they are looking to change things over time or as feedback is received.
Harvesting techniques, node location, node respawns, harvesting outcomes are ALL very fragile if it's been put out in a phase of development. This aspect in the game will experience little effect of the few players that are in the game at this stage. It will experience heavy stress when an entire server of players is engaging in this aspect of the game. This is a huge difference on the impact of this system and it's design. So, I find it near to impossible to Judge their outlines in this update at this stage and with the little stress it will undergo at this stage of development. So it's very likely that only at later point in time, they'll find the flaws in their design if there are any. And you can be sure, that the players then will not restrain themselves from shouting out loud when resources are out of balance ingame.
This harvesting update is a nice read, it reveils something still very fragile and vague but this will allow for the crafting design to enroll itself. And I believe that's why they have chosen this 'starterpack' of harvesting as a starter. The craftingprocess and their classes entales a lot more and requires a lot more design and writing (I reckon) from the start. With harvesting being out there, they can move up with that.
Harvesting investment vs reward and all relating matters is something that will need to be leveled out as the game is played. I don't expect it to be a perfect fit from launch.

So, I tend to read their update a bit different.

They are starting off with the basics, the known. But already they are talking about designing additional tools or requirements to the harvesting process. As they see fit in the full length of time. Seeing that we're looking at pre alfa 4...I'ld say. Good thinking. I reckon it's easier to make things more complex over time, instead of tossing out complexities that could provide huge amount of buggs and would require a big investement of time, which they at this stage of development should be directing elsewhere. I am not saying harvesting is not important! I get that when looking at the entire game as a whole, they don't want to start off making everything different with the limited amount of resources they have so far (time, cash, employees).

They are already talking about skill progression/level as well. They are not quite reveiling how you can skill up, but that's not necessary to share this dept of detail at this stage.

Like camping for mobs could be a thing in Pantheon, flocking around nodelocations seems quite feasable. I've harvested for days in other games and found that you're not often alone. But that's not a bad thing in an MMORPG, in fact it is to be expected. Respawn time and designated locations for specific node types makes sense to me and again feels natural for this type of game. I don't see what's so wrong about a little competition when it comes to nodes. Sure I've had my frustrated times, but that's the same for boss fights or questmobs. It's even a good thing for the economy to have that competition.

I like Vjek's 6) very much. A player run event that allows the player to produce certain resources. This should not compete with resources found otherwise in the world. Otherwise this could kill marketprice and make spawning those resources in the world redundant and a waste of design/time.

I remain not a fan of group harvesting. I see it only being usefull if the game has designed a need for it. It risks depleting nodes or corrupting the node design for no reason other than to socialize. I can still team up with players and harvest together without having the need for groupharvesting buffs. A build/survival game is a different story, but Pantheon is not that kind of game.

I expect that as I skill up, my harvesting speed might go down and my harvesting amount might go up to a certain degree/platform. It makes no sense of being able to harvest 20 fish from 1,2 seconds of harvesting, just because I'm highly skilled in fishing. Unless the recipes are designed so that you need 500 fish for one dish. But I doubt that will be that case. The amount of resources rendered from one bout of harvesting should have it's limits. The frequency of harvesting rares could go up as you skill up but again could have it's limitations.

I've already giving this too much thought based on the vague sketches from the update. I'm not going to complain about a game or aspect thereoff before I've played it. If it turns out that this aspect is so wrongfully designed and the dev's are not willing to alternate that throughout the different stages of development, so be it. But I'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
 
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