Life After Thrall Armies

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It came up during one of the last two livestreams that one of the reasons for the new thrall-pot and animal-feeder system (and its fast churn) is that the devs want to discourage us from filling up the map with thralls. This reminded me of something I heard earlier – that the reason there are vast areas in the desert with no mobs is that during early access they had to drastically bring down the number of mobs on the map or else the game didn’t work. That’s got me wondering if part of why mobs keep losing aggro, and why thralls keep failing to aggro, is that the aggro management system simply can’t handle as many thralls as we have. If I’m right, then to keep the game going at all, the devs have to force us, especially on PvE servers where there are lots of solo players, to cut way down on the size of our thrall armies.

So I spent the morning trying to imagine a Conan Exiles where I have one dancer, and one combat thrall or animal pet that follows me into battle, period. And you know what? I can imagine that … but …

  • Offline purge has to cease to exist. Period. Otherwise you’re forcing us to log in for the whole six hours all seven nights a week or lose an undefended base, because mobs will have that whole half hour to chew away at it with no resistance.

  • Online purges can be 24x7. I get that you don’t want to create an incentive for people to not login during primetime. So, fine. Keep the purge progress bar the same as it is, or maybe even slow it down a little, so that it doesn’t happen every time I log in. I still have an incentive to build a strong, defensible base and to repair it, as necessary, between purges. That’s what you want, right? But …

  • Purges must scale to clan size. If I understand the current purge scaling, there are three tiers of purges scaled to the three different zones of the map, and purges can spawn with or without a world boss in the last wave? And if I’m guessing right, when the UI talks about “maximum purge level” from 1-6, the odd numbered purges are without world boss and the even numbered ones with? Then any solo or any clan below 5 people needs to be immune to even-numbered purges.

The reason why we’re spamming huge thrall armies on PvE and PvE-C servers is because we’re in danger of having our base over-run by a world-boss while we’re not on, and not all of us can solo world-bosses anyway. (Especially so for people in the tier-1 and tier-2 zones, most of whom aren’t level 60 yet.) Restrict that threat to large clans that can afford to have people take turns topping off the animal feeders and the thrall pots, and you create an incentive for people to clan up but also a price for them to do so – balance.

  • Do something about offline PvP raids on PvP servers. If you just tweak the purge settings, people on PvP servers are still going to have an incentive to spam thrall armies just so that there’s at least some token resistance when people try to burn down their bases when they’re offline. Not that thralls are much more than a speedbump anyway, though. But you can make thrall feeding and pet feeding time consuming as long as it’s something that a large clan could do. This would create a powerful incentive to have, say, no more than four 10-man clans per server with, perhaps, no more than two cities each. Could the servers handle eight crowded thrall-filled cities? If so, then that’s your ideal balance point. If not? Then you’re going to have to give people some other way to not have their entire villages burned down because one enemy griefer was logged in when they weren’t.

There are people who would hate this, because part of why they want to play is to enjoy recruiting an entire NPC army. But if Unreal Engine 4 and SQLite can’t handle that? If you need to design a game where we recruit an entire army of non-combat crafters but have one entertainment slave and one combat pet or fighting sidekick per person? Where it takes a whole clan of players to manage a larger NPC army? It could still be Conan Exiles.

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