FR EN DE ES IT PT
As announced in Gamakna #0, a simplification of high-level content is scheduled for the next update (2.42). The goal is to get this content back in sync with how the game has evolved over the years, and to establish just the right balance of difficulty and accessibility.
 

Before we go any further, let me briefly explain what we're talking about here: 
 
  • "High-level" content refers to content at difficulty levels higher than Frigost II: Frigost III, obviously, but also the Divine Dimensions, the Underwater Extension and a few individual dungeons (Tal Kasha and Shadow, for example).
  • It's probably pretty clear what we mean by "simplification": we'll be making this content less difficult. See below for details.

Let's go back to the days before these dungeons were introduced, when the most difficult content in the game was in Frigost II. This content has itself been simplified in the past; we increased accessibility and reduced the difficulty so that more players could meet the prerequisites to reach Frigost III, which then allowed a larger slice of the population to have access to this content.

However, for players who had reached level 200 and completed the dungeons that were available at the time, there wasn't really any more room to progress – and that was the biggest complaint we heard from the community: With all of the improvements we made to the dungeons after Frigost II (simplification, the addition of modular dungeons, achievements, etc.), none of them provided any new challenges to players who had already completed that content, and those players hadn't had anything new to sink their teeth into for several years.

It was at that point that we integrated Frigost III. But we wanted to avoid a situation where, the day after Frigost III came out, most of those same players would have already finished it and gone back to asking us to add new content for them. So it was important to us to provide content that would have a slightly longer lifespan (i.e. that would take a certain amount of time for players to get through).

There are only so many ways to make sure that players don't play through new content "too quickly":
  • Impose time limits: X dungeons (or X attempts) per day. This solution is totally artificial, and although we have tried to limit the addition of daily content over the years, we don't want to do it in this particular form.
  • Impose limits on exchanges: prevent players from exchanging items acquired in the dungeons, so that they have to make their way through every last bit of the content (often several times) if they want all the rewards. Needless to say, we don't much like this solution either: DOFUS relies in large part on its exchange system, and limiting that would do much more harm than good.
  • Produce a lot of content: 20 dungeons will probably give players a longer in-game experience than 5 dungeons. But that would also mean investing more resources – and besides, quantity is not the same thing as quality.
  • Produce replayable content. This was the preferred solution before Achievements were introduced: adding content with very rare, highly randomized loot, thus ensuring a very long lifespan. We have turned away from this approach (to some players' great disappointment, we know) for two main reasons: 
    1. DOFUS is a tactical game, so it's inherently less interesting when played repeatedly: once you've won a battle, doing it again is much easier. The whole challenge is coming up with a winning strategy. The battle doesn't change from one iteration to the next (or not much, mainly to limit the impact of random factors on the outcome of battles), so it often unfolds in an (almost) identical way every time.
    2. Having to go through the same dungeons again and again heavily penalized single-account players and less frequent players, who didn't necessary have the time to go through these dungeons regularly. On average, players had to complete 15 to 20 dungeons per character in order to build even a single item. Furthermore, at the time, it could sometimes take dozens of hours to finally complete a dungeon (what with having to go through every room again on each attempt, and 8-character battles that took a long time), and certain players didn't get any reward at all if they were unlucky.
  • Produce more challenging content: offer relatively difficult dungeons that require a major investment of time and effort to achieve victory, but with a big reward for the first victory.

Obviously, this last solution is the one we've decided to go with, in part because some of the player feedback we received in the past was fairly critical of the difficulty level of the content we were producing (which was seen as being too easy).

Today, the situation seems to be reversed: criticism of the lack of high-level content, which was a recurring theme just 4 years ago, has now given way to concerns about an overemphasis on this type of content.

We think this is because, back then, the proportion of characters who had hit the highest possible level was much lower, and the players in question were eager for more challenging content (since reaching level 200 required a lot of investment at the time). Since then, we've made character progression easier, with the goal of giving more players access to high-level content. There are a lot more level 200 characters now, with the side effect that many of them don't really have the time or interest to invest in finishing the challenging content we provide for them, even though it's labeled “level 200". Simply put, the fact of having reached the highest possible level doesn't mean what it did a few years ago.

In response to extensive feedback along these lines, we've decided that it's time to simplify our high-level content for a number of reasons:
 
  • We don't want to ignore the increasing number of players who have reached level 200 but find that the content at that level requires far too much time and effort to complete.
  • We want to make this content more accessible to a wider variety of class compositions.
  • Given that we now have a lot of high-level content, we can more easily reduce the "lifespan" of each dungeon without giving the impression that our "end game" content is over too quickly.

Overall, we've worked on a number of different points:
 
  • Removing or replacing certain mechanics: We want to make certain battles more accessible by limiting the number of things players have to keep track of. For example, in the Catseye battle, the system of black glyphs has been replaced by damage if a monster starts its turn in the same cell as a character, while splash damage and healing have been removed (when attacking a monster or character who was on the same tile number as another).
  • Reducing certain effects: Similarly, by reducing the strength of certain effects, we ensure that they do not require as much attention, because mistakes are not punished so severely. Against Vortex, for example, resuscitated monsters now have less health and less MP.
  • Making monsters easier to understand and predict: We have modified most of the monsters in the affected zones (except for Tal Kasha, Merkator,and Shadow, for which only the bosses have been changed). 
    • Removing certain unnecessary or redundant spells: for example, Skt-Zo can no longer give shield points, and Spookkoth's place-swapping spell no longer exists.
    • Reducing certain monsters' mobility: reduced MP and added recast intervals on certain teleportation spells.
    • More constraints on casting spells that were previously too easy to cast: addition of straight-line casting for certain long-range spells, reduction in certain monsters' range, longer cooldown periods.
  • Improved visibility for certain effects: We have recently developed new tools to make combat easier to understand, and we're taking advantage of changes to the dungeons to use those tools retroactively whenever possible on the dungeons that came out before the tools were available. For instance, when battling the Queen of Thieves, the bomb that is going to explode at the end of the current character's turn will now be indicated by an icon.

The details of these changes will be provided in the changelog; for now, here's the list of the dungeons that will be affected:
 
  • Catseye
  • Vortex
  • Queen of Thieves
  • King Nidas
  • Koutoulou
  • Meno
  • Dantinea
  • Tal Kasha
  • Merkator
  • Shadow
  • Missiz Freezz
  • Klime
  • Nileza
  • Count Harebourg
  • Sylargh

This doesn't mean that no other dungeons will be reviewed, but we chose to concentrate on the dungeons with the most issues, given the time that was available to us.

We will continue to keep an eye on the results of our changes, both in beta and beyond, and make any necessary adjustments. We expect these dungeons to work better now, but above all, we hope that more players will have an opportunity to explore them, and therefore take full advantage of all the content we have to offer.

By the way: this doesn't mean that we're completely abandoning the possibility of producing more "demanding" content in the future. We'll keep thinking about the best ways to provide this type of content to the players who ask for it, while still making sure that it's accessible and interesting to as many players as possible. Idols and Achievements are already useful tools to provide a significant difficulty boost for content that is still generally accessible, but we hope to iterate on these mechanics in order to feed the insatiable appetites of our most demanding players.
Category: Game design