I have been thinking alot recently about Conan Exiles state and i wanted to share some of my toughts, I hope somebody will have the energy to read this essay .
I am atm playing with a friend on a private server Isle of Siptah, we play only PVE, not interested in PVP.Long ago we played the base game but got bored out of our minds after reaching level 60, there was just nothing to do.We had a lot of fun in Siptah but recently after leveling to level 60 and getting some decent gear we started getting bored again and only after massive addition of mods and massive changes to sliders ( atm dmg we do to npc is at 0.4 and NPC dmg to us is 1.4) did we start again having fun.
I think part of the problem with this game is that it got such a broad range of target playstyles.You can play PVP, you can play PVE, you can play solo , you can play with 20 friends.Thats why imho its really hard to make it fun for everyone specially that some features are very needed by one playstyle and would seriously harm other playstyles.
For example vanity armor/weapons (you equip one armor for funcionality but in another slot you equip the armor that will really show, so you can look like you want and have the stats you want ).For PVE its for me very important, and we use fashionist mod to achieve this.It gives us so much fun to experiment with looks, not having to worry that our stats will be bad.It also adds some depth to the game and allows us to experiment with mixed armor parts, without looking like idiots.
I would imagine tough that for PVPers it would be very detrimental cause you wouldnt be able to assess other players armors and weapons.We are happily on a private server but poeple on official ones cant install mods.
Another example I think most PVE players want harsher survival elements, and NPC/vaults more challenging with more complex mechanics.Its for us the whole game.For pvpers i think its not important or even detrimental because its just a side show, their real fun/endgame is in pvp.
Also how do you balance NPC elemnts for one player solo and 20 players? Sliders are something, but its far from sufficent as on same serverpoeple can play solo and in big clans.
Having said all that the only solution that comes to my mind is to not try to make one same game (I am talkign from customer perspective, it could be same code with switches) for every playstyle:
Rules and features should be switchable, and should vary between PVP and PVE servers.Vanity could be on on PVE servers and switched off on PVP. Dark nights and harsh temperature effect could only be switched on on PVE.
Now for diffculty the only solution i have come up with is following:
Keep the sliders as they are now for finetuning but :
1- All features should be balanced for solo player (or solo player with thrall) and should have a varied scope from 0 level to 60 level endgame, with a lot of features for 60 level endgame, as you get there pretty fast.
2- There should be as it is now also 3 or more buttons for difficulty, that would just move the sliders.
3- Now for the hard part, to make it challenging and fun for 1 person and 10 player groups: imho the only way is to make special locations like vaults/dungeons/bosses/camps auto scaling in relation to number of players.
(only to number of players, NOT to power of players, players need to feel the need to get better, gain better gear and see they can win more, and making it autoscale relative to players level/power kills it).
So imho in vaults/dungeons/bosses/camps the difficulty of enemies should be auto scaled higher relative to number of players doing it but also at the same time increase the number of npc relative to number of players.
On top of that would come the difficulty from the chosen difficulty level described in point 2.
So for example:
overall difficulty novice, 1 player → weak crocodile boss.
overall difficulty medium, 1 player → medium crocodile boss.
overall difficulty novice, 2 players → weak crocidile boss and 4 regular corcodiles.
overall difficulty medium, 3 players → 2 medium crocodile bosses.
4- Prolly for all this to work the special places would have to be instanced, so only one group of players can do it at one time.Or maybe there is another solution.
I know it would be a lot of work, but Vallheim sold 3 milion copies+. I would say there is a big market for survival games and Conan has got some features that no survival game got atm: Adult, realistic world lore based on a known franchise, ability to play 1- infinity players, good graphics and often gorgous places/monsters.
I know we with my friend seriously considered jumping to Vallheim after all the postive reviews, the only thing that stopped us is the fact that for us the art style is not acceptable, it seem very fairy like, as if for children.
(nothing wrong with adults playing it but it does seem very fairytale, we wouldnt enjoy it)
So maybe it would pay off the make Conan really good, to grab the players when they are bored with Vallheim or those who dont like its art style?
If you soldiered trough till the end, thank you:), plz write whats your take on this.