But where are we today? What changes did the game design team and the client team put into DOFUS to improve the problems of limited access to "end game" (level 190-200) content that we outlined in that original article? Were those changes effective?
Let's take a look!
The Steps to Improved Accessibility
Even before the publication of our first devblog article about the Frigost figures, the development team was aware of this accessibility problem and was already working on tools to help solve the issue. Here’s a list of the systems that have been put in place to make it easier for players (especially single-account players) to reach and defeat dungeons during the last two years:
- Dungeon Progression Save System (version 2.3.4): A much-needed improvement. It’s hard to imagine that Frigost could have a future without it. Since it was established, death in a dungeon is no longer synonymous with a completely wasted evening, and allows smaller, less confident groups to try their luck in a difficult dungeon anyway, knowing that they can retry the dungeon from the same spot if they lose without having to find keys for everyone again.
- Team Search Tool (2.3.5): Unfortunately, we must confess that this particular project was a resounding failure, this tool is not seriously used by anyone. But we did learn an important lesson: tools alone are not enough to change ingrained player habits.
- Dungeon Teleport System (2.4.0): This system put an end to hours of waiting in front of a remote dungeon. Thanks to this system, you can invite the guild Iop who always manages to run right into the arms of every agro monster between -2,0 and the dungeon NPC to your team without a care in the world. Starting most types of dungeon runs is no longer an endless chore.
- Bonus XP for Secondary Characters (2.6.0): With this feature, single-accounting players were given the ability to easily raise up alts and explore other classes. This also means that single-accounters who use this system can more easily level up alts to fill necessary roles on a team, improving the selection of available characters to complete dungeon teams. The newer ability to recover spell point scrolls has also strengthened the ability for single-accounters to play more than one optimized character.
- Rebalancing of Frigost Dungeons (2.6.0): In direct response to the disappointing Frigost access figures, the difficulty of the Frigost dungeons was reduced to allow more players to make it through.
- Adaptable Dungeon Difficult System (2.7.0): C-C-Combo! This change did double duty by reducing exploitation of low-level dungeons by high-level players, and made it possible for teams of as few as four players to complete every dungeon in the game. This system marked the end of miserable hours spent languishing at the Zaap for the lack of an 8th player to complete one’s team.
- Achievements (2.9.0): The most powerful players were given new goals to strive for, and those who were having more difficulty advancing through Frigost were able to reap additional rewards for completing each step of the journey. Crafting important equipment from Frigost was also made more affordable for small groups of players.
- New Frigost Sets (2.6.0 and 2.9.0): These new items gave players who had already mastered Frigost some new projects and allowed everyone to pursue more build diversity. However, we find that these new sets have not provided enough of a motivational engine for some players. I’ll return to this point at the end of the article.
Before we get to the numbers, here’s some detail on the data that we used as the source of these statistics:
- The statistics are based on characters connected to the game during a two-month period starting in mid-December 2012 and ending in mid-February 2013.
- Only characters above level 40 are counted for the purposes of these statistics. Lower-level characters were removed from the data for several reasons, the majority of these characters are bots, mules, and characters that were tested and then abandoned. And most importantly, they cannot access Frigost.
- Only characters that have completed the quest “Welcome to Frigost” have been counted (unless otherwise specified). This was to exclude characters who are not interested in PvM game content.
- The specific players or characters represented by the numbers in 2012 may not be the same specific players or characters in 2013. Some players have left, some have come back, others were simply not active during our sample period. Similarly, characters who were in one particular level group in 2012 may have gained levels since then and may no longer be in the same demographic today.
Who's on Frigost?
Distribution of characters who have completed the quest “Welcome to Frigost,” measured by level in 2013:
Historically – and this is still true today – DOFUS players have never been the kind to rush en masse to the highest level; the majority of active players are not all together at the top of the heap. As you can see on the graph above, the Frigostine population has a well-distributed assortment of levels.
Although access to Frigost is possible at level 40, players (when taken by level group) don’t tend to seek out access to the frozen island in large numbers until approximately level 100. And as you might expect, Frigost access becomes really essential for a character’s advancement at approximately level 120.
Another interesting figure to point out is that there are now 51% more characters who are level 180 to 200 in February 2013 than there were in February 2012. The population of the game has moved closer to reaching the ultimate level. This is a change that we hoped for, and it’s good news for Frigost III, because it means that the target audience for this content update is growing!
Player Frigost Progression Since 2012
Percentage of active characters who had completed the quest "Welcome to Frigost" and completed each Frigost dungeon in early 2012:
Percentage of active characters who have completed the quest "Welcome to Frigost" and completed each Frigost dungeon in 2013:
Increase in the number of characters who have completed each step between Feb. 2012 and Feb. 2013:
Episodes 1 and 2 of Frigost still offer challenging goals for DOFUS players. Clearly, the difficulty is still there, in spite of the readjustments to the dungeons. We're quite far from the majority of players being able to burn through the content, but there has been a significant increase to the number of players who have completed each stage of the Island. This is normal in the face of content that is difficult, but rewarding, and it's one of the reassuring signs that we are on our way to meet our goals for this expansion.
Quick Look at the Different ClassesMany times, players ask why some classes are neglected compared to others when it comes to completing Frigost content, and why some classes find it impossible to get a place in dungeon teams... so let's take a quick look at how the different classes manage on Frigost.
The three classes with the highest percentage of completion - Pandawas, Masques, and Rogues, are also the classes that are among the least played. One class has been subscriber-only for many years, and the other two are very new, so they have not yet found the same kind of success that other classes enjoy. Their low percentage of the overall population, combined with some special skills that make them quite attractive (or even essential) for Frigost dungeon teams explains their place in this ranking.
They're followed by the support classes (Osamodas, Feca, Enutrof), who are also essential for certain dungeons, and the pillar of many groups, the Sacrier.
Ecaflips in the 8th position came in higher than other damage dealers (who are generally found at the bottom of the ranking), because it is also something of a specialist class, and are a lower percentage of the entire population. There are fewer Ecaflips than Cras who are level 200, but on average, the Ecaflips are more effective when completing Frigost.
Enis suffer from the opposite of this phenomenon, because it is one of the more popular classes (Enis make up the biggest percentage out of level 200 characters on Frigost), so in spite of their many synergies with other classes, their sheer numbers prevent them from making it to the top of the rankings in this case.
The rest are made up of three categories:
- Damage dealers (classes that Hit Things And Hit Them Hard like Iop, Cra, and Sram): These classes suffer from the abilities of other classes to do enormous damage - sometimes equivalent to their own - which is meant to be their specialty. Because of this, a group can manage without a damage dealer, while they cannot manage without support characters. Fortunately, we have some projects in the hopper to address this issue.
- Xelors, who specialize in AP removal, and who sometimes struggle to find a place in a team when other "mezzer" classes are more effective. There are many reasons for this, and we have discussed both this problem and some thoughts on how we may correct this problem in the 2.10 class balancing article, which you can read here.
- Foggernauts, who are the newest DOFUS class, and who have a very new style of gameplay based on zone control. This class has found it difficult to establish a place in groups who haven't adjusted their habits in order to make the most of the Foggernaut's capabilities.
The fact that the three newest classes are the least represented in the level 200 characters on Frigost should surprise no one. They are the newest, but as I mentioned above, they also require more tactical rigor to exploit their advantages, unlike the older classes. However, we still see a large disparity beween the five most-represented classes (one third of the classes comprise over half of the level 200 characters on Frigost), and the least-represented.
This simply confirms a common observation that some classes are in need of stronger roles, which we intend to continue pursuing through future class balancing changes. We want to give each class assets that will allow it to have a major impact on a fight and also form synergistic relationships with other classes in a group.
Yes, even though some of you might groan at the thought, we do plan to continuing these class balancing projects through the long-term (this especially applies to Fecas and Xelors, as their changes require more work than the other classes), but even though this is a long-term project, we believe that through these changes, the game will gradually improve.
Frigost’s traffic statistics aren’t perfect yet, and we hope to see them increase in the upcoming months, notably thanks to the Achievements that are still in their infancy (it’s too early to measure their impact on players’ motivation to tackle the dungeons of Frigost 2).
But accessibility is not the only reason that justifies why players take so much time to reach the Mount Scauldron. There was actually a lack of objectives. It is true that, for players who love challenges or for those who want to trade their loot, going through dungeons is inevitable. Quest lovers or landowners also have to reach at least the Snowbound Village to benefit from what the island has to offer.
But for the others, those who don’t get excited that much about challenges and who only see difficult dungeons as a way to obtain new equipment… they could just wait on the mainland for the most motivated players to come back, and buy the equipment from them.
The market is simple exchange mechanism that’s always existed in DOFUS and that shouldn’t be put into question. But the characters’ ability to equip such powerful items without going through the hard task first is no longer compatible with our desire to offer interesting PvM challenges. It was possible to earn Frigost’s benefits and increase your power, without even having to prove your worth.
It is something we want to change in Frigost III; to offer real objectives and rewards that are actually based on merit for players who go through all the trouble. In Frigost III, the new equipment will also have a new condition: the holder will need to have completed the dungeons associated with the item at least once before being able to equip the sets the dungeons offer. Of course, all the items and resources will still be exchangeable; this condition will only apply when equipping them.
Power will have its price in Frigost 3, and it won’t be all about Kamas!
The adventure will begin before you know it...
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