Content of the article: "Unpopular opinion – the economy has to become dynamic in order for it to have any longevity (and other musings on the progression)"
Ain't no one gonna read this but here it goes!
The issue of progression has recently been gaining some traction in the community with Klean and DeadlySlob covering this topic recently.
Now any solution to this has an inherent issue associated with it – it'll be uncomfortable to someone. Whatever is done, it'll negatively affect someone, just by the fact of change alone. You cannot make something better by not changing anything. So anything you do or don't do, you will alienate a portion of your playerbase.
Early/Mid-game vs Late game.
Early and mid game is lauded, late game is considered boring. But why? For startes, firefights last longer, require more skill, movement, tactics and outsmarting your opponent. You value your life, you feel respect even for the shittiest of bullets. You have a feeling that the kill is earned. Guns have tons of recoil so you need to pick your shots. It's… I know it's illegal… but it's fun.
Late game however is plagued with a number of issues. Gear gets dominated by very similar loadouts that cover approx 10% of the gear in the game. There's nowhere to progress as you've reached the ceiling. The excitement from killing a kitted player diminishes as time goes as the economy saturates. People start being picky with their loot and only the good stuff brings any sort of satisfaction. The hideout provides a steady, predictable stream of income.
You let it run long enough it becomes a mindless PVP battleground.
Side note – the black and white fallacy of the makeup of the community.
Casuals vs hardcores. Rats vs Chads. Whenever a discussion pops up this dichotomy is always present. "Feature X hurts casuals but doesn't bother hardcore gamers playing 8h a day". No. Like anything in life the population of EFT is subject to the bellcurve distribution. There are hardcore sweaties grinding out the kappa within a week and there are also sunday gamers. Then there's everything else in between. Let's keep that in mind.
You don't need to be a streamer or play the game as a full time job to make money. We have a discord for 30+ yr old gamers with families and all of us were swimming in roubles and gear after 3 months of the past wipe. Sure it takes us longer than streamers, but still.
Taking weapons as an example. Different items have different stats (recoil, ergonomics, etc), some are obviously better than others which obviously makes them more sought after. There are also different ammo types for every caliber. Then lastly we come to the guns which directly tie into the first point, by their base stats and how much those can be brought down/up by attachments.
If you have a plethora of items that have different stats, there's sure to be an optimal loadout. If that optimal loadout is always available at an attainable price to the point where you can run it consistently, then there's really no reason to run anything less. This is the meta and at the moment it's basically a synonym for best in slot.
Appealing to a greater good such as gameplay variety is in vain because people will do everything to put themselves in the best possible position. If that means running whatever flavor of meta weapon that is – VAL, M4, FAL alongside top tier lvl 5 or 6 armor over and over and over and over again, so be it. We all know that's not the only way to get by in EFT, but all else being equal – top gear puts you on equal footing at minimum.
Trash contextualizes treasure. A rare item is not rare if everyone is running it. It's a normal item.
Gear minmaxing combined with a ceiling in progression create a situation where the game becomes stale, people get bored and we get chants for a wipe to releave the pressure.
Wipes however, even at set intervals, are not the solution. Every wipe, in the absence of something fundamentally new, gives you (rapidly) diminishing returns. Doing the same quests over and over is an absolute drag. It's my 7th wipe and this time around I've really hit a brick wall with them. Now imagine doing them every 3 months. Maybe just do an inventory and trader level wipe? Yeah, that's just skipping one part of it and arriving at the same point but even quicker, considering how quickly you can make money.
The endpoint being – having enough money to run anything you want all the time without the fear of getting broke. Or in the abstract, having a big enough cushion to make any blow from a bad streak become inconsequential.
All of that is just a perpetuation of the same sawtooth progression. Grind, saturate, wipe, grind, saturate, wipe.
Side note – persistent character vs wiped character
I know there have been talks about having two characters – one persistent that's not wiped and one seasonal that is. On paper this might look like a good solution, but there are some problems.
POE players would have to chip in, but I reckong, that in a way this might become a form of matchmaking – the persistent character would be a mode for "sunday" players, while the wiped one for the sweats. I mean, maybe that's the way to go, but if the game is to gave any longevity, the persistent character will eventually face the same issues as the current game, it'll just take longer to develop.
Unpopular opinion – The economy is just a set of time and effort gated unlocks.
There have been multiple ideas to prolong a wipe, but in my view the fundamental issue with those is that they're based off the same linear progression – start from scratch and acumulate wealth until saturation. Some of these ideas include restricting labs till level X, locking behind a quest or just disabling it for a month. The problem with these is that it's just delaying the inevitable, while also giving a direct buff to those who get there first as they'll have the place virtually to themselves.
What follows is also the concept of "starting mid wipe", which essentially means that the gear disparity is so big that the further into a wipe, the more difficult it is to catch up. That effort is directly correlated with experience – the more experience you have the easier it is for you to reset or jump in midwipe. Extending a wipe potentially alleviates that by giving people more opportunity to catch up, but also pushes away from coming back/into the game if they recognize that it had passed their personal breakpoint where it's too hard / frustrating.
So out of all of that, a clearer picture emerges. We have to somehow find a solution to always have something to work for, but also not give the impression that you're up against an impenetrable wall.
That means that the game needs to pivot around something colloquially known as mid game. How would we define mid-game? That's another debate, but for the sake of the argument we could define that as something in the range of:
- Armor: Kirasa/6B23-1 to 6B3TM-01M or Uley chest rigs,
- Ammo: 5.45 BP to BT, M855 to M856A1, 7.62 PS to TS-45, etc.
- Guns – medium modded, but best to show examples: https://imgur.com/a/QsOvNep
That would be the sort of mean loadout you can run on a consistent basis and you'd see the majority of the time. From the sentiment across the community, this seems to be the most enjoyable state of the game, where the sweetspot is in terms of protection and vulnerability, but allowing a lot of headroom for both variety and
Now we must have to remember that there's a number of changes inbound that will alleviate some of the issues:
- Armor will get more realistic hitboxes to match the actual armor plates which should flatten the armor progression curve quite a bit and make more ammo more viable.
- Suppressors will get durability
- Barrell overheating mechanics should alleviate some of the issues with magdumps.
But those are sill far on the horizon.
The uncomfortable reality is that in order to truly balance that you have only a few choices. One is to go down the route of typical FPS tropes where every weapon type is perfectly balanced (i.e. shotguns powerfull but limited range, smg's low recoil, high ROF but weaker, dmrs powerful but high recoil and low ROF, etc). I don't think this will be ever a thing in the game.
Another one is to make attachments roughly equal and just attribute the differences to the tacticool visual factor. This would be realistic in a way, but would take away from the game.
The last one is to price them out. Literally. I'm of the unpopular opinion that endgame should not be a stage, it should be a state.
I know I know, last time it failed spectacularly. However, that was a different flea market and the implementation was poorly thought out. Since it didn't have a pivot point to relate to it caused widespread inflation of even the most basic items and was prone to manipulation.
However the concept in principal has proven itself to work – M995 was essentially priced out of existence and forced people to look for alternatives like M855A1 or M856A1 or different calibers alltogether. Even the sweaties of sweats got a bit excited when they killed someone with 3 60rounders filled with M995. See where I'm going with this?
The execution was poor and poorly thought out.
But how about a different implementation? Adjust the prices based on how much an item is (or is not) bought compared to other items of the same item type. Most popular items' price (of a specific category) increases, while the least popular one decreases.
This could also be coupled with (or as an alternative) an additional rarity factor which would sort of specify how volatile the price is. Continuing the ammo example M995 would have the highest rarity factor and would be very prone to price increases, while the likes of M855 would be considered common and have a much more stable price.
Obviously this would be subject to long term trends and would not happen overnight. But the main aim is to dynamically scale the economy to the general wealth of the playerbase around a certain pivot point which we established before as the mid-game.
This would be a quite significant blow to the uberchads as they would unironically struggle to maintain a profit from their runs. And yes, some of them would still probably be able to pull this off, but remember what we said about the bell curve? It's just about making them so insignificant in the global player pool that they'd be a very rare occurance.
Global item pools
This idea has been floated around by Nikita some time ago but we have no ETA on this. In short – for some items, there is only a set amount that is present in circulation. For example there are only X amount of ReapIR's in the entire economy – spawns, traders, player stashes. If everyone hoards them in their stashes – thats where they'll remain. They don't spawn on maps, they're not sold on traders. Only until they're lost they get reinjected into the item pool.
This idea should be reserved only for the absolute top tier OP items. Something that you'd get all giddy if found/looted and you'd contemplate taking it out.
Side note, the X amount should scale to the active playerbase, which could be something like a weekly or biweekly moving average of people actively playing the game in a set period.
This one is a bit controversial but also attributes to some of the in game inflation and gear recirculation. If you run a large squad, even if one of you dies, there's a high chance someone will survive and secure others' gear. And even if all of you die, something's bound to come back.
This might be a bit controversial, but I think group size should have a debuff to the chance of getting your gear back the higher the bigger your squad size, for example an incremental 10% chance for each additional squadmate.
Right now fuel consumption is static no matter how much stuff is going on. What if the fuel consumption rate was tied to the size of your bitcoin farm and the amount of crafting going on.
Additionally hideout appliances could wear out and require maintenance, which would grant them performance debuffs like increased crafting time.
Right now stocks are predictable. You have the same amount of items at a set interval. Things like traders missing some items or not getting a restock due to broken supply lines, which can be cheekily tied into…
Dynamic global events/quests
Such as as getting rid of scavs on a particular location to remove the roadblock. These might be done per player or as a global event where everyone has to chip in.
The subject is difficult and solutions are not simple, but what I do know is that eventually Tarkov will have settle into an identity which will come with a sacrifice either at the expense of vision or mainstream popularity.
Thank you for coming to my TEDTalk. I'd like to give a heartfelt thank you to the 5 people that read this wall of text.
- BSG is listening, but we need to keep it more civilized on here
- BSG and their illogical, emergency fixes to relevant problems
- I think I’m about done.
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