When they made the first Leadership changes back in July to fight bots, we already knew it was bound to fail. Yesterday goatshark announced the next round of changes, which equally resulted in a controversial discussion on the official forum.
After initially reporting the change as a success, the lead designer had to admit that the bots (predictably) adjusted to the changes and that as a reaction Astral Diamonds had to be stripped from the profession entirely and as a compensation (sort of) more ADs can be earned by playing the game.
Unfortunately, botters found a way around this fix. As we looked into the data, and as we analyzed what we could do to fix this exploit, we came to the conclusion that the way to stop the botters was to remove AD from the Leadership profession.goatshark
Let me start of by saying that this now finally tackles the issue and indeed solves the Leadership bot problem. I also think the change is not universally bad, because the game has never been designed around the ADs players were able to make with the Leadership profession. Talking to other players the last two years, we always agreed on the fact that BiS technically shouldn’t be that widely available. Of course, exploits and bots played the major part in the progression rush, but also some design flaws that allowed clever players to make too much ADs.
Several times over the years the devs said that generating ADs through an ALT army is not the way they envision the game to be played, it took them this whole time however to adjust the mechanics. They more and more moved away from BoE, so players had to earn their progression on every char and now removed the biggest remaining source of ADs as well. We players were always on par with AD as a time-generated currency, sort of. We also wanted to take away ADs from bottable content and make actually playing the game more rewarding.
So far, so good.
Now here comes the ‘but’, because fighting bots is only half the truth of the history of changes regarding the economy, Astral Diamond generation and Leadership. It becomes painfully clear that the devs are also using the changes to artificially bottleneck AD income. I touched on how the game uses progression walls to trick players into investing real money and you can add Astral Diamonds to the list. Players are now essentially hard-capped with 24k AD per day, because it’s extremely unlikely that players will hit the daily cap with multiple characters since maintaining ALTs on a decent item level gets harder and harder. The change is not only about fighting bots, but also to trim hardcore players who will now get less overall AD out of their time and are not compensated for the loss of the Leadership profession.
While we were indeed asking to make the game rewarding and AD a time-generated currency, we didn’t ask to be capped and it’s obvious 24k AD per day is not enough to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. It remains to be seen how much of a grind it will be to get to the daily cap anyway, let alone that PVE players need to PVP to reach it and vice versa. Just to give you some numbers, let’s take a look the unavoidable cost of GMOPs that drop virtually nowhere. You need 420 for BiS or 31.5M ADs. Even for VIPs that’s 3.5 years of getting to the daily AD cap. And this doesn’t include the costs of Wards, which are unattainable in a sufficient amount by playing the game as well, or Cubes of Augmentation, Companion Upgrades, etc. Goatshark said they will indeed review all costs, but you would be a fool to believe that anything will be significantly lowered, because that doesn’t fit their business model. I also think that prices already were designed around the 24k cap since like ever and now the original game design is simply enforced. Prices will probably drop a little, because less AD in the economy means players no longer can outbid themselves with virtually unlimited resources, but some costs like the GMOPs or ZEN shop items are hardcoded and won’t move one bit.
On a high level Neverwinter is a mono-character game that wants the player to invest literally years to develop their toon. You might still be able to casually play the game with multiple classes, but don’t expect to challenge the big boys if you are not committing to one character for a brutal amount of time.
Or… spend money.
So while the changes indeed do fix the botting and the economy, it also realigns the game to better fit their business model by adding another daily progression wall. Leadership through ALTs was the last major source of free ADs, now it’s pain or pay. The devs are eager to point out that across the board players should benefit, but the truth is that they target the super-rich here as well.
This can further be backed up by the bans that are currently handed out to some. PWE specifically targets those with big Leadership accounts. We already reported the case of bearchaser4 and other users are reporting that accounts that used ALTs to generate and transfer ADs in some form have been hit as well. The official reason for such bans will always be “botting” and some accounts have been released after talking to support, but it’s safe to say that generating ADs through ALTs and transfering the ADs to a main account is indeed a bannable offense. I myself am banned since a few weeks and it’s not looking like I will get my account back although I never used any bot to do Leadership and tried to explain any ‘fraudulent’ data they have. After some talking to support, the official reason for the ban is “suspicious transactions in the ZAX” and since I used it to transfer AD from my Leadership army to my main, it’s easy to draw conclusions. At this point I would highly recommend to back off of the ZAX and Auction House and buy and transfer GMOPs instead.
Neverwinter is a casual game, but that hardcore players are such villains is actually a new development. It’s not encouraging to say the least that the devs feel they need to lie or at least cover up some of their true intentions with the fight against bots. As much as they want to make us believe they are doing it for a good cause, they also reveal their game hasn’t been working for them and desperately try to right the ship.