Agent system and boosters - my collected thoughts


#1

I’ll be frank: I don’t get the agent system. On a bunch of levels. So, maybe somebody can actually help me make sense of the things I’m struggling with?

Getting agents

When the system first came out, everyone got Faction Recruit and then pure RNG hell both in terms of in-game drops and boosters. There was no clear sense of progressing toward a wider agent network with more operatives beyond the vague promise of Roman Konstantinov in 500 agent missions.

Then came Lydia Darling and apparently, the people rejoiced.

I don’t get it. There’s now essentially two starter agents, making the promise of Roman Konstantinov half as vague, but it seems to me that’s all there is. How did Lydia fix the underlying issue there’s no clear sense of progressing toward a wider agent network? Anything beyond now three rather than two agents is still pure RNG hell, isn’t it?

Agent missons

As far as I can tell, there’s basic missions with rewards that aren’t worth it most of the time (the sub-250 xp distillates), and more advanced missions that my agents can’t even go on most of the time.

I mean, they literally can’t. When someone with only Faction Recruit and Lydia Darling unlocks T2, chances are there will be some missions they can’t go on. When that player unlocks T3, odds are there will be just one or two missions one of them can try. And at the time when T4 unlocks, chances all those missions cannot possibly be attempted at all.

I don’t get it. Does Funcom actually think going from largely pointless to hitting brick walls with only a minor speed bump (T2 missions) would create a sense of progression that entices people to use the system?

Mission and agent balance

I don’t get if what we have is even supposed to be some semblance of balance. if it is, I don’t get why it would be considered such.

That’s due to two things basically going hand-in-hand: resource acquisition and resource costs.

It seems to met hat getting certain resource-gathering agents early on is a massive advantage in terms of actually being able to do the more interesting agent missions in the long run (provided one can even get success chances up high enough to try them).

It also seems to me there’s little rhyme or reason to what resources missions cost. At T2 in particular, I keep seeing 15 minute missions actually consuming a resource for the benefit of nothing I can figure out. At higher tiers, mission resource requirements quickly become so obscenely high that given the… odd… progression of success chances I at least have come to think of ‘good’ T2 missions as the system’s sweet spot.

I don’t get it. Is that actually what the system wants me to think?

Bad mitigation, part 1

So, stuff from agent boosters is character bound and can only be sold for Hexcoins, which can only be spent to gamble on the luck of the draw. How is this a good idea?

Now, Hexcoins are meant to be a ‘mitigation currency’ that lessens the blow for people who spent a lot and had bad draws, but as far as i can tell, they fail miserably at that, because Hexcoins only buy what are, effectively, lottery tickets that can wipe out what is supposedly there to mitigate the luck of the draw. And I don’t get it.

Somebody already posted they felt RIPPED OFF of 200 HexCoins, and I for one can understand where that feeling came from.

200 Hexcoins takes a lot of booster = Aurum = money to come by. We’re realistically talking over 100 dollars here, because someone who draws a lot of high Hexcoin value items isn’t going to sell all those agents and the nice gear back. Most of their Hexcoins came from green gear, at $1.25 a coin.

That thread wouldn’t exist, and I would not be commenting on it, if 200 Hexcoins bought a user a top tier agent of their choosing, or a bag they open to select the agent of their choosing, or whatever.

I really don’t get it. The Hexcoin system as implemented should make people more wary to spend any more with every agent they do get, which is the opposite of what I feel it should be designed to do.

Bad mitigation, part 2

Now, aside from my getting the impression Hexcoins fail miserably at mitigation, there’s a completely different elephant in the room. Let’s talk about that, because I don’t get that.

From my perspective, play-dropped agents being marketable and booster-dropped agents being bound seems alarmingly likely to make players who actually spend money on SWL question the wisdom of that.

I mean, let’s look at four hypothetical players, whom for a lack of imagination I’ll call A, B, C, D and E. Players A, B, C, D and E have in common that each of them have not one, but two copies of Hayden J. Montag.

However, player A got both of his Hayden J. Montags from play, while player B got both of his from boosters. Players C and D both got one Hayden from playing and one from a booster.

Player A is really happy: he’ll use one Hayden and sell the other on the AH. He’s probably going to sell for nearly a million Marks of Favour! At current exchange rates, that’s about 5.000 Aurum some other dummy paid for. Finally, amenities like Sprint VI for this F2P player!

Player B spent real money on the Aurum he used for boosters. Given the drop rates of top tier agents being reported, he probably bought around 100 boosters, so 12.500 Aurum’s worth. He gets 4 Hexcoin for that second Hayden.

Player C had gotten Hayden from a booster and unlocked him, so getting his second copy from playing is a massive boon. On the AH, that dossier is probably going to sell for nearly a million Marks of Favour, which can buy back a lot of the Aurum he had spent on boosters!

Player D got his first Hayden from a dungeon chest and, playing Chaos, immediately used him. Because it looked like a lucky day, he decided to buy some Aurum, outright, with real money, to buy a bunch of boosters. And he got another Hayden who… is worth 4 Hexcoins.

Players A and C, one of who doesn’t actually spend real money himself we don’t know if C does), are happy. Players B and D, both of whom spent real money, may be questioning the wisdom of that about now.

Player E, by the way, got his second Hayden from the 200 Hexcoin unlucky bag he bought in hopes of getting another good agent for the rest of his $125 booster purchase. He is screaming bloody murder.

Whom is this even aimed at?

I don’t get it.

I really was expecting a system that tries to draw in people, especially the more casual players who wouldn’t even want to care about hardcore endgame elite grinding, and entice them to spend a bit more every now and then, a bit like similar systems in other games. But I don’t see how the system would actually do that, given the above limitations.

So, what kind of player/customer persona(s) did Funcom have in mind when designing this? I can’t for the life of me imagine.


#2

That is a really good question.


#3

I was player D. (with Montag so it’s weird reading this) Yes, my reaction was predictable.


#4

I think that the Agent Dossiers you get for hexcoins from the Shadow Trafficker should cost 50/200, and give you a guaranteed unlock you don’t already have.

Sort of like the Mount Packs in Guild Wars 2 that caused so much controversy for about a week when they were launched, until people realized it could be a lot worse.

That way you could save up and eventually know for a fact you were going to get all the Agents offered. I mean, currently, a 200 Hexcoin Agent costs (at most) 4,625,000 MoF. Figure with decent luck, half that. If instead of buying boosters, you just converted Aurum to MoF, you could easily buy any 3-5 Agents on the AH.

The highest I have heard of an agent selling for is 2 million MoF, so it actually shakes out to about the same deal, only it effectively makes the Agent Boosters LESS desirable, and as Agents drop more, people are incentiveized to wait, spend less real money, and make less profit for Funcom.

Ideally and realistically in my opinion, if the Agent Dossiers from the Shadow Trafficker gave you a guaranteed unlock, a shitload more people would be buying them to cut down on the RNG of drops. Since you can get repeats, especially on the 200 drop, No one is likely to try that more than once.

Edit: Clarity


#5

Ouch. I mostly picked Hayden because I’m Chaos main and don’t have him, so he#s always on my mind.

I’d offer to trade you a dungeon-dropped Deputy Andy, whom I guess I should be trying to sell for
Unbenannt


#6

haha, I’ll get all of them eventually. I run enough dungeons. I am, however, less likely to spend more money on agent boosters. I honestly don’t know what the solution to any of these problems are. They can’t just give everything away and it is meant to be a long-term project. It’s just demoralizing in the moment it happens.


#7

Exactly, currently I already own the blue agents (and 2 purple) that you can obtain in boosters so I’m at a point where I only expect duplicates and I’m not comfortable spending my aurum for a really bad deal.


#8

If the Hexcoin agent bags gave a choice instead of a random agent, that’d eliminate the ragequit-worthy problem player E faces. That’d might even help sell more boosters in the long run, because people could save up to just buy their final agent from that lot. Why that isn’t how things work, I don’t get.

I really don’t see the benefit to booster agents being character bound. Did some business whiz actually do math suggesting there is any, or was that a random decision because why not? I don’t get it.


#9

yes you are right. A good monetization is one where you have different level of prices and where the customer get some good value out of the money he/she pays.


#10

There’s another thread about that. I’m not happy about the dupe agents from boosters worth 4 hex coins. Even worse if you buy the hex coin agent and it’s a dupe now worth 4 hex coins!

Definitely makes me think buy of the AH with pixel MoF vs using real $$$ to buy aurum to support FC. Either give us ones we don’t have or trade back hex coin value for the agent.

Love the OP’s post though. I do enjoy the agent thing, not so much the booster back character bound and often ridiculously low drop rate out in the world. The AH has been my best resource so far!


#11

So, I actually managed to trade my Deputy Andy for a Hayden Montag. I now have my Chaos dps most wanted agent!

I really don’t think I’ll risk buying any more boosters for now.

Ad that’s despite my having gotten a Nassir in just a couple of boosters the other day!

… well, partially because of it, really. I mean, 2 of the top agents? The odds of a ‘great’ draw from boosters effectively being dross are getting too high in a hurry…

Funcom, please do consider the idea of Booster Agents Unbound. Or at least make Hexcoin bags not suck and blow at the same time.


#12

The simplest way to fix this is to allow the Epic agent drops from boosters to be traded back for 200 Hexcoins instead of 4.

That way, if someone gets a repeat Epic agent, then they can just trade them back to the Shadow Trafficker and try again.

Funcom are in real danger of killing their golden geese (whales) with the agent system monetization.

There is surely a lower limit to the bad value in gacha boxes before whales stop spending & leave the game & go start playing some other game with better value items.


#13

I am… somewhat concerned… Funcom might mistake just giving people the ‘foil’ version if they have the epic agent already for a fix.

But given SWL has absolutely no way of showing off the agent ‘card’ collection, nobody is going to give a werewolf’s furry behind about special agents that add nothing mechanically.

It’s almost like somebody without the slightest actual clue about what makes collectible card games work tried to adopt ideas from them…


#14

Lydia did two things: provide a starter agent with generic DPS related bonuses and give everyone an immediate use for the second mission slot. It was a solid move.

[low success rates for missions]

Obviously it’s not mandatory to do missions only from the highest available tier. But if any player wants to have a shot, the game is encouraging them to get agent gear. Through boosters, naturally.

[resource management]

Higher tier missions will give you higher xp and rewards per time spent, at the cost of resources. 1st tier is mostly resource positive. 2nd tier is mostly resource neutral, good for juggling resources around. 3rd tier onward is a resource sink.

When you want to level fast, tier 2 is not the sweet spot. The sweet spot depends entirely on how many “resource gatherer” agents you have and how much you utilize them.

[booster issues and the target audience]

At their core, all lootbox style microtransactions are designed to exploit impulsivity and addiction. Funcom got the impulse factor right by putting those purple names on the loot table as the bait. They frankly botched the gratification part. HexCoin recycling must have been their idea to keep people coming back for more, but the oversight (or intentional decision) of not implementing a condition to prevent duplicates of top tier rewards really nullifies everything else.

As for the target audience of the entire system, I don’t know. Doesn’t seem like it has a specific audience. It’s not intrusive enough. It’s just there if you care.


#15

I just assume ‘whale’ is the answer to so much regarding ‘target audience,’ as they’ll apparently happily pay for anything and everything.

But the games FTP, so I guess this is how it’s supposed to be?


#16

I really don’t think so. Imo, the agent system is something that really should be encouraging impulse buys of a couple of boosters here and there, given the most successful F2P models tend to make about half their money from non-whales.

An incredibad booster and Hexcoin system that makes each extra booster less and less likely to have value isn’t going to help that. Heck, I doubt any but the most compulsive, addiction-prone whales will fall for it.

That also makes SWL look worse than average from a moral monetization pov, and I really wish I got the impression Funcom actually cared that is a problem.


#17

I’m not in disagreement with you on this–but my opinion isn’t the one that matters. There’s a lot of things FC doesn’t seem to really care about, so I just go for ‘because according to them this is how it’s supposed to be.’


#18

I was doing the 8 daily missions (3 + 5 bonus) per day in hopes of getting an agent, after about a week of frustration, I just quit – I never saw an agent drop and from what I read, they were so rare it was ridiculous.

My main got an agent out of an arum bag, and got the starter agent and Lydia. I bought an agent off the AH for gouger’s price (115mof) to have 4 agents on my main, but then you start wanting to add gear slot items and the snowball just keeps rolling down hill. I succumbed to trying to get a decent gear slot item that I spent $10US to but 8 boosters ($5 = 500 = 4x125). Got mostly green crap and one purple. I sold the green to the vendor for that blue hex coin we’ll need in the future. Kind of felt like I’d been duped by a carnival game barker after the transaction ($1 for 3 balls, knock the bottles down! )


#20

To latch on to that comparison, know how carnival barkers tend to hand consolation prizes to people who spent a lot? I’ve never seen anyone who tossed out $100 being handed a purple box with a note inside saying, “Screw you, sucker!”

The Hexcoin bag system really, really needs adjusting. (So do the boosters, imo, because $1.25 for usually something completely worthless puts many carnival games to shame.)