In an earlier Devblog article about the future of Dofus (eggs), we explained that, among other things, our intention was to make all Dofus permanently linked to the account of the character that gets that Dofus.
This article led to significant debate within the community, which we have been following with a great amount of interest. The team was quite invested in your discussion of the article because this decision was also debated at length within our team before the article was published. It was a thorny decision, because both sides provided many positive possibilities, but also some potentially negative counter-possibilities.

The debate within the community provided grist for our ongoing internal discussion, and we have worked on integrating your reactions into our projections for the consequences of this change.
Ultimately, we decided to reverse our decision to link Dofus items to accounts for life, and in this follow-up article, we will try to explain why.


A rich set of different activities

DOFUS is a game with many different activities that players can participate in (quests, dungeons, hunting Archmonsters, breeding, crafting, Kolossium, AvA, hunting Perceptors, etc).
We believe that it is unrealistic to expect every player to participate fully in these activities, because each of these activities is different and they can target audiences with different tastes.
Our goal was once to fully optimize participation in each activity by “monetizing” each new type of content that we added to the game. However, based on our internal discussions and the feedback of the community, we now believe that we have reached the point of diminishing returns with this approach, and that we are going to concentrate more on optimizing the enjoyment of each activity for the players whose tastes find these activities appealing rather than trying to maximize participation (by encouraging all players to perform all activities).
This means that some players will specialize in Kolossium fights, some prefer to spend all their time managing a breeding empire of industrial proportions, some will choose to harvest and produce hundreds of items per day, others enrich their wealth by manipulating the markets and spend their time playing to buy and sell resources, etc.
These activities provide an undeniable richness in the game because each one provides goals and each one is viable as a means to progress through the game. They have very specific ways to play that don’t require the same skills, which means that they will not necessarily target all players, given that not all players will have the same tastes and expectations of what is fun.
These types of activities are so specific that it seems more reasonable to make them optional.


Goals for everyone

With so many activities, it is very difficult for us to provide balanced rewards and regular content for each of these in-game activities.
In the past, we have offered unlinked rewards associated with each activity. This allowed players to generate economic value by participating in their favorite activity, value that they could then use to obtain the interesting rewards from other activities by trading with other players.
We are willing to accept that whatever rewards we might create for these activities, certain parts of the community will never be ready to engage in activities that don’t interest them, even if the rewards for that activity are highly enticing. It is not desirable or reasonable for us to “force” players to perform these activities which are not enjoyable to them personally.
But in order to make each game activity entertaining and interesting in the long term, players need goals. For some, the goal is to reach a certain level (for your character or profession), or to purify an entire herd of Dragoturkey (for example). But for some players who have already achieved their goals, there remains one goal that can still offer new challenges each time an update includes new high-level equipment:  the goal of having a more powerful and effective character.
Some characters do not actually need to equip the most rare and powerful equipment in the game because they do not actually use them. Still, crafting or obtaining the most powerful and rare items are both excellent goals because they have a certain perpetual motion within the economy (thanks to new content and Forgemagic opportunities).
By making rare and powerful items (like Dofus) linked to an account forever, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to allow all players (regardless of their preferred game activities) a path to obtain items that are one of the main objectives of the game.


Specific rewards and interconnected systems

For several years, we have been trying to develop different activities, and connect those activities together by giving each activity specific and exchangeable rewards that can be useful to all players.
This approach allows us to make each activity viable and rewarding (although we admit that there is room for a lot of improvement in this area); allowing players to focus on their favorite activities, generate wealth, and use that wealth to get rewards from other activities.
This system has been criticized by players who do not want to trade and by those who want their favorite activity be completely independent without needing to interact with players who enjoy other types of activities, but we consider interaction between players to be not only part of our vision of the game, but also a fundamental part of this genre of game, the purpose of which is to engage in a persistent world where players trade, cooperate, and do business with each other to achieve their goals.
Using this approach for the acquisition of a Dofus, we can allow these items to be used as rewards for activities practiced by a minority of players. In actuality, following the logic lain out earlier in this article, if we are not going to continue to pressure all players to perform all in-game activities then we cannot afford to allocate linked Dofus as rewards for activities that only a minority of players will want to complete.
This means that it is more credible and realistic to offer these Dofus as rewards for some particularly elitist and difficult activities to ensure that these rare and powerful items remain scarce, while also making it possible for any player to get these items through trade if they are investing a huge amounts of time and effort in their favorite activities.
For the majority of the community, the true Dofus are essential goals. They represent what many would say are the “purpose” of the game – obtaining the most powerful items and becoming the most powerful character.
Your feedback and our internal conversations have made us realize that linking these Dofus may push players to participate in game activities reluctantly, and under a feeling of duress.
While we do want to encourage players to try all of the activities in the game, including those activities that might be outside of their normal comfort zone, we don’t believe that it’s desirable to directly force each player to become expert participants in every activity of the game, regardless of their individual tastes.


Achievements have a role to play

One of the purposes for the introduction of achievements was to reward mastery over various game activities. Completing achievements have already quickly become a powerful engine to drive players to attempt more versatile modes of play.
Based on the metrics on achievement completion, we believe that this system is already operating effectively. It urges and encourages players to try other content or activities. The rewards offered for most Achievements are motivating without being unescapably optimal - the unique rewards (meaning the rewards that you can only receive by completing an achievement) for most Achievements are cosmetic.
This approach seems more moderate and appropriate for encouraging players to test other activities without becoming overbearing.
Of course, our goal is to create content and activities that we believe that most players can enjoy, and to encourage players to try out all of these aspects of the game, so it will be necessary for us to continue strengthening the Achievement system with more rewards that are exclusive but not oppressively optimal.
In a nutshell: rather than using linked Dofus as a lever to “force” players into different activities, we will focus on using achievements to guide players through content, since this is the purpose of achievements and the reason for their creation!

Equipment must be considered as well

We couldn’t address the issue of linked Dofus without addressing the issue of equipment that requires players to have completed certain content before it can be equipped (e.g., Frigost 3 equipment).
This problem is slightly different than that of linked items, because unlinked items with equipment criteria can be traded.
But in order to equip these items, it’s necessary to complete content that is not necessarily relevant to all players. And even though dungeons are a very important part of the game, we recognize that it is content that can be very difficult for all players to access – players who use only one account, for example.
When we introduced these conditions on the Frigost 3 equipment, our objectives were to maximize dungeon completion and limit the problem of a tiny minority of players generating the majority of equipment for the majority of players on the server (this minority being composed mainly of multi-accounters who were grinding these dungeons and generating what we considered to be “abnormally” high amounts of kamas).
In hindsight, we believe that these conditions are no longer necessary to regulate generation of these items, thanks to adjustments to the recipes for these items including items from other dungeons and pebbles from other activities (Kolossium, dopples, quests, etc), as well as the amount of resources available from Achievements. These restraints have limited the ability of this minority to generate the same amount of equipment that we saw in Frigost 1 and 2.
In light of this, we have decided to phase out the dungeon conditions on these pieces of equipment. However, we want to promote and reward players who complete the dungeons – particularly those who charge ahead to lead the way for others, we have decided to leave these conditions on new high-level items for a temporary period when they are first released. We have not yet determined the ideal amount of time to keep these conditions active, but at the moment, we are looking at using a period of three to six months (or perhaps until the release of a new series of high-level items).
This is how this proposed system might work: we release a new high-level dungeon with new equipment. When the dungeon is released, all of the equipment related to this dungeon will initially require players to complete the dungeon before they can be equipped. Players who complete this dungeon will have exclusive use of this equipment, although others can buy and sell the items normally. Then, after several months, a new high-level dungeon is added with new equipment, at which time, we will remove the dungeon criteria on the previous set of items.
The approach is slightly different for a Dofus: no matter when they are acquired, they will be bound to the player’s account for several months (we have not yet finalized the duration, but we believe that three to six months would be sufficient). This means that those who have the wherewithal to rise to the challenges of these Dofus quests or activities will be the only ones who can equip them for the first few months, but then they will become tradable and may be obtained by any player capable of generating enough value within their favorite activities to purchase them.
There is one major exception to this system: the Dolmanax will remain linked in perpetuity. This is because this Dofus remains fairly accessible to any player, regardless of their favorite activities. It is also fairly “easy” to generate large amounts of this particular Dofus due to the use of alts, and that is an outcome we would like to avoid.


Identity crisis

 This choice to not make Dofus items linked to an account for life has been an interesting process for us. Reversing this decision has been partially due to your feedback, but also due to our thoughts about where we want to go in Dofus in 2014.
Linking items theoretically would allow us to maximize the “profitability” of the content that we produce, and this concept of linked items is one of the most powerful tools available to encourage players to participate in every type of activity in the game.
But we do not want to turn DOFUS into a linear game. We prefer to willingly sacrifice the power of using linked items in order to make player interactions more open, free, and enriching.
DOFUS has always had a kernel of “sandbox” within its “themepark” structure in the form of an economy that allows players control over the prices of items and services, and now its territories via AvA. We still like and appreciate this part of the game and we want to improve this part of the game’s aspect in the future.
This is the direction that we want to continue towards, and it’s an aspiration that we believe sets us apart from most games. We want to give DOFUS a real soul, make it into a living world rather than railroading players down a single path, and this direction seems like it is the most sustainable and interesting for you, our players.

In summation!

  • The next Dofus to get a quest chain will not be permanently linked to accounts. They will be temporarily linked (for a few months after they are acquired), but that is all.
  • The old Dofus that were perma-linked to accounts will eventually be changed retroactively to the same temporary link system.
  • The dungeon conditions on Frigost 3 equipment will be removed in the coming months.
  • We will continue to use similar types of conditions on new high-level objects when they are released, but they will be removed after several months after the equipments' release.
  • We want the different activities in the game to be dependent on each other, while ensuring that the items generated by each activity will have enough value to allow players to purchase items that are generated by the different types of activity that the game has to offer.
  • We want to limit the number of items that are linked to accounts in order to facilitate specialization so we can continue to offer players incredibly rich rewards for incredibly difficult tasks, even if those tasks will only be completed by a small minority of players.
  • Achievements should be the main tool to encourage players to explore all game content.

We still do not have an ETA for the release of the next Dofus epic eggie quest, but we expect to turn off the conditions on Frig 3 gear by the end of 2013. We will also replace the lifetime link on Cawwot Dofus and Dofwas with a temporary link by the end of 2013.
Category: Game design