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Here's a summary of the Ankama Live Twitch stream from Tuesday, June 15.



Welcome everyone to another episode where we talk of everything DOFUS related! We’re now in Temporis 5’s last week! You have seven days left before the servers close!
Today, we will discuss how the Temporis 5 experience went and what lessons we learned from it, with Kewl and Starbender.

(They are the Game Designers behind the Ecaflip City Temporis concept. They did everything regarding the idea itself, the card system creation, the mechanics, how the experience will work, etc. Like we said, E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!)

 

How does the DOFUS team decide on a Temporis idea/concept/theme?

Usually, we come up with several different Temporis ideas. We try to have basic concepts that we prepare and present to Logan, the Producer, and we discuss and review them with him. Logan has the final say on the decision. Some concepts are kept to be further developed for future Temporis editions.

Once an idea/concept is selected, it is based on a theme or a system in itself?

For this Ecaflip City concept, we had proposed this system back when we were preparing Temporis 4.

We started with an orb-based system. Although we didn’t develop the idea further to present the concepts, we had some elements in mind:

  • Orbs had to be obtained to level (removing traditional XP gains as we know it on classic servers).
  • They could be crafted.
  • They could be dropped.

Once it was selected, we began working on its adaptation. During that process, we asked ourselves if it wouldn’t be more fun to collect cards instead of orbs, as the concept is widely used in trading card games (TCGs). Once validated, it was time to move forward and determine how we would enhance the Temporis experience further by allowing players to do more than just level with these cards.

One thing we were confident about was the fact that we wanted to get rid of the item drop we saw on Temporis 2 and 4 while offering something new. We thought we could create a card game where any combination of cards would always give an item. That’s when the Five-Cat Monte was born!

Once we had the cards concept and the notion of creating items via these cards, we continued brainstorming on ways to wrap them, and more, all together into one theme.

So, we have cards, we have an entire universe, a God that plays cards, and we have Ecaflip city in Kerub’s Bazaar: why not do a casino theme with other card games that are all going to be in the same area? At this point, our concept started to take shape and moving away from stand-alone ideas put together: an Ecaflip City-style casino.

At this point, the concept we had was exciting because it allowed us to offer a “casino” experience - although it is a lot less randomised, and the house doesn’t win in our case. However, we realised that we were missing an element to associate with fights, as it is an essential element of the game. Thus, the idea of adding another layer of depth to the Ecaflip cards and a customisation aspect leads us to the Kitty-Neko concept. Kitty-Nekos allow players to change their gameplay as you they see fit, depending on what they fight.

In all, we can look at the overall Temporis 5 experience via two categories:

  1. Macro – the overall Temporis experience without XP, which means an ongoing evolution over two months, and
  2. Micro – the day-to-day that varies from the classic server adventure through the use of Kitty-Nekos in fights.


 

Once you have the concept ironed out, how do you create Temporis V?

During a previous Ankama Live, Logan mentioned that this was the first time we took on the monumental task of removing the core concept that existed on DOFUS and replacing it with something else.

We start by documenting everything because while everything is clear in our mind, we need to explain it to the rest of the Production team and check with them and other departments if the concept is both clear and feasible on their end. Once all aspects are reviewed (the servers, the graphic designers, etc.), we prepare an action plan. We then oversee the initiative to ensure everything goes according to plan and is delivered on time to be then able to test the concept.

The challenge was more in the hands of the developers and programmers as they had to find a way to apply the idea of no longer gaining XP via fights. It was “easy” for us to think about it, but it wasn’t that simple for them to implement it!

What did you do to adapt the XP progression to your concept? And for the recipe creation?

One thing that many players might find challenging to conceptualise is the fact that once you take away the classic XP gain, you now have to think about alternative levelling options, mainly the creation of millions of recipes. Of course, there is a randomisation element to the recipes, but we had to determine specific conditions for the most powerful ones.

We’re talking of two different concepts for the progress and the recipes: the Five-Cat Monte and the recipes associated with levelling up.

Progression

We replaced the XP with a quest that asks for cards. It wasn’t so important to know where the XP came from but rather what cards are needed to level and the recipes for each card. Regarding professions, we are talking about around 400 cards. We did encounter some challenges with these, be it regarding the quantities of resources needed to progress and recipes that include resources that shouldn’t be required at that particular stage. This is very obvious once you come across it! The reality is that we do not know by heart, from a list of several thousand resources, where they come from, what they are, if they are linked to particular prerequisites, etc. We try to balance the list the best we can, but there are bound to be things that get missed, and that is what caused some of our challenges once the servers were live.

When we work, all resources are numbers (unique identifiers). We might know how to obtain them and their drop rate, but while this information might help us determine if it is a good resource to include in a recipe, only once the servers were live could we realise that an Evil Forest monster (the Oni) drops it.

As an isolated case, it is easy to determine it isn’t a viable option as it is not an ordinary monster, and it resides in an area that is not easily accessed. But when you are working on hundreds of cards at once, it is hard to realise it ahead of time.

We hope to have addressed these challenges quickly enough (generally during the night).

Five-Cat Monte

As for the Five-Cat Monte, it worked rather well overall. In principle, the system is based on the card level. There is no distinction between boss cards, profession-related cards, and monster cards. It was intentional: you could get just about anything with the most accessible cards, while the cards that were more difficult to obtain could be used for levelling and trading in the marketplace.

In terms of recipes, we will tell you now because there is just a week left: the highest card determines the “power” range (FR: un interval de puissance), and then each card added that is lower will decrease this range by reducing the two markers.

For the recipes that we have shared (during the Twitch live streams, on the forums and on Twitter), the last card is always much lower than the first. While some believed we were being mean with the recipes we shared, we shared the best recipes available for those items! We feel it made the recipe more readable, but we can confirm that the system does not consider the order in which the cards are placed in the Five-Cat Monte.
 

Communication phase before the release: what was your reaction?

We were thoroughly amused. We did some weird stuff like removing the XP for this Temporis, which is very hard to figure out. However! During the teasing phase, two people understood what was going on, and they were so close to what we were doing, but nobody noticed them.
We enjoyed watching players trying to figure the concept out; it was incredible. The pre-release communication phase usually happens when we are in full rush mode, and the more hype there is, the more pressure we feel because we do not want to disappoint the community.
 

How was the Temporis V release day for you?

We were happy.
We were full-on preparing the release during the communications phase because we wanted to add as much content as possible from our wishlist (like the mini-games, which were the last things to be added). We accumulated enough hours that we were able to take some time and play. In fact, for the first few days, we fully immersed in it, but with tremendous pressure. Now imagine, while you are playing, and you get a message saying, “By the way, regarding the Kerub hairs. Must we really do the daily quest twice to get to level 20?” So yeah, that was stressful!

We do test things before release. However, we don’t test content the way players do.

First of all, the servers are empty, so we don’t have the same economy to test on as when players test on a Beta, and DOFUS is a game that relies heavily on its economy.

We can’t ask people within Ankama to test Temporis and go from level 1 to level 200, running all content. For that to happen, an internal server would have to be open and available 3 to 4 months before the launch. We perform a systemic test to check that everything is working as planned.

This Temporis edition had a community focus as we wanted to encourage trade. We said certain cards would be rare, there was the opportunity for trade to take place around cards, and that even sharing recipes could become a market — all of which we cannot test on an empty server. We can speculate, we can make guesses, but we can also get it wrong.

We also can’t open a beta server because we want to keep the content a secret until the official release.
 

In saying that, we were committed. The teams were available to address the challenges as they arose: Kerub’s hairs or other resources, we tackled the situation within 6 to 12 hours of it being reported, sometimes much less than that. We always figured out a way to make the resources available to the community. The players at the front of the race found themselves stuck in these situations. The players who came after didn’t have to deal with the problem because, by the time they got to that problematic stage, it was resolved.
 

When managing these unpleasant surprises, is your priority to facilitate the players’ Temporis journey?

We don’t want them to be stuck, but we do not want to make it easier: we want to smooth it out. We knew from the get-go we were working on a challenging concept, and we still have a specific course of action that we want to keep for this Temporis edition. Our goal really isn’t to be mean nor to cause frustration.

As mentioned before, we had a few days off to enjoy and test Temporis V. It has happened that at 1 a.m. (because we work from home), Logan would message us because we needed to spawn pumpwins, and we did it because players were stuck. By being active and vigilant, we were able to smooth things out on several occasions.

 

As game designers, you came up with the entire Temporis V concept. As players, how was your experience? Did you have any surprises?

The only real surprise was the Five-Cat Monte because we do not know the card combinations. Beyond that, we can’t say there were a lot of surprises for us.

But it was an absolute pleasure to witness and be part of it, watching people discover the concept, trying to figure things out, helping each other over the game chats.

Quite frankly, we will admit that it was a surprise that there weren’t more problems with the Five-Card Monte! In fact, we had backup plans if ever there were problems with the Five-Cat monte recipes.

Remember a particular server maintenance that lasted longer than usual? Well, after the servers were restarted, all the Five-Cat Monte recipes had changed! So good thing we had a lot of stuff in place to save all the recipes, all the card combinations from everyone, just in case! To patch things up, we had to have a lengthy maintenance to restore the original recipes.

What is your take away from this experience?

One thing we really like is the Experience Tempotion. It still needs some adjustments, but we think that rather than making an XP potion according to the XP obtained, to make it according to the investment and progression on the server.

Tempokens are alright as they show that the person was invested in what we hoped they would do.

The community that is forming around the Temporis experience is open to significant changes in gameplay. This is rather good news for this kind of adventure as it can allow us to explore and perhaps propose other innovative things in the future.

The archmonster tokens were also well received, so this is a system that we can keep in mind for the future. We are not going to use it on the classic servers but, for the Temporis experience where the adventure is fast-paced, we like the notion of providing more accessible access to the kind of things that are usually complicated or time-consuming to obtain.

It was the first time we based an edition so much on game content, and that was the difficulty some players encountered at the start: they have “power levelling” habits – go to certain areas where they know they can power level quickly – while this Temporis required them to follow the natural progression of the game. Some players understood that rather quickly, while others were utterly resistant to this system because that’s not how they want to play DOFUS.

However, we could see that the server populations were quite balanced because the retention of this edition is, percentage-wise, proportionally the same as that of Temporis 4. So we can see that we have these two populations in DOFUS who can appreciate the Temporis edition in different ways.

What is your conclusion? Is there anything else you would like to add about this Temporis edition?

As we said, we are delighted with this Temporis, and proud of what we were able to do. Even if we are a little disappointed with the hiccups encountered along the way, we are happy that we could resolve them efficiently and proactively.

We took a lot more risks than for the previous edition, but it is also the most complete in terms of content and new proposals.

It was the occasion to propose something new, and we know that we can’t please everybody, but we are genuinely delighted that so many players liked it.

We will do our best to have fewer problems in the upcoming editions; we will always try to be there to solve them if there are any. We’re going to keep the systems that work, we’re going to try to correct those that don’t. This was also a very community-based Temporis edition, so maybe the next one will be a little less?

And we sincerely hope that you will enjoy the next Temporis!