Thursday, September 22, 2011

Perils of AA Inflation

Lyriana, my EQ2 main, first hit the game's level cap (then 80) in 2009, with 127 out of 200 possible AA points.  Two expansions since have increased the level cap once and the AA cap twice, with a third increase in a two year period slated for November's expansion.  Right now, Lyriana has 264 out of the current cap of 300 AA - when she gains thirteen more, she will be able to access the expansion's final ability (a two-point cost, which requires 275 spent elsewhere).  Raiding guilds that advertise on Crushbone generally include this 277+ point ability as a pre-requisite for would-be recruits. 

As it now stands, the daily quests that I do routinely while waiting to see if I can find a group get me enough experience for one additional AA.  I don't mind the system, since it rewards me for stuff that I'm doing anyway, and it's not keeping me out of content - I'll have the AA's well before I meet the gear requirements.  I could see how someone who had a guild waiting on them might feel differently. 

That aside, there is one significant aspect of the way in which the AA cap has risen - each time it has done so, there has been a free respec, and additional respecs are available for a price.  Meanwhile, in Telara, Trion apparently plans to increase Rift's not yet launched Planar Attunement cap at least once, if not twice, to unlock the second and third tiers that are currently sealed on the UI.  Trion's system controversially does not allow respecs even though the game's entire class system is balanced around players changing roles at a click of a button. 

I'm not entirely opposed to the lack of respec, especially since no one really knows how the system will play out.  However, it does beg a philosophical question - when those additional tiers open up, will there be a respec?  If not, should players who have cherry-picked the best abilities out of the current trees save up their planar attunement points to buy future abilities, rather than picking up less desirable abilities now?  Bear in mind that we have no indication whether attunement point costs will be higher on future trees - higher costs would slow power inflation due to the system, but could leave players regretting a spending spree on filler points today. 

At the end of the day, it is kind of fun to get the occasional new ability, whether it's through an increased level cap or alternate advancements.  It just seems that the consequences - power inflation on the high end and an ever steeper curve for newbies on the low end - bear some watching. 


Rohan said...

My understanding of Trion's system is that you can cap out the AA points. I.e. it's possible to get every single AA point, but it will just take a very long time.

Under that scenario, no respecs make a sort of sense.

Green Armadillo said...

That's my understanding as well, and I could see it working other than the issue of what happens when the cap increases (or, for that matter, when balance changes alter the value of existing abilities). If it really does take significant amounts of time, a player with buyer's remorse that was caused by changes that they could not anticipate may have a long time to think about whether they're happy with the way the system is implemented.