Monday, December 25, 2017

Quality of Life in Dungeon Fighter Online

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope that you're enjoying some time off, or at least a less hectic time of year. I don't really expect anyone to be reading this today, but it's Monday, so that means a new blog post (and I wrote this ahead of time).

As one can guess from my post last week, I been delving into Dungeon Fighter Online. I'm not generally a big MMO person, I've played a few free ones here and there, but the only tentpole AAA MMORPG I've played is World of Warcraft, and I've discovered some quality of life things that I really like in DFO that I now wish were in WoW.

So this is more or less a wishlist of things I've noticed that I wished were in World of Warcraft, so I'll be using that game as the baseline. Most of these are quality of life issues.

1) Buying customized quantities on the Auction House

Sometimes you just need seven of a particular item, no more, no less, but the only options in the auction house are Seller #1 listing 200 of Item A for 50 gold each, or Seller #2 listing 10 of Item A for 70 gold each. I could buy from Seller #2 and eat the higher price, hoping to unload the few leftovers individually myself, or I could buy the larger bundle from Seller #1 and be stuck with even more inventory to unload.

DFO lets you buy the specific quantity that you want from the seller that you want. So I could buy seven of Item A for 50 gold each. As a buyer this is the best option since you don't end up with more than you need. And arguably, for a seller, you're sure to sell something as long as it's in demand.

This also solves the ridiculous flooding problem in WoW where someone individually lists two pages of Item A at a high price because the system reads the lowest aggregate price on a bundle rather than the lowest individual price when it presents the lists by price to the buyer. DFO, however, only acknowledges the lowest individual price (since quantity is chosen by the buyer) so all those overpriced one-offs would rightfully be listed at the end.

2) Seeing the prices of other Auction House sellers when you list something

Using the vanilla auction house interface in WoW, it's only possible to see other people's listing for Item A if you search for it and look. Listing the item happens on a separate panel so you can't see the prices while you're listing.

DFO lets you see the prices as you list, and since prices are listed by how much they are individually being sold for, it's easy to decide exactly what you want for your asking price. If everyone else is selling Item A for 500 gold. You can list 495 gold and the game will math out the total price if someone were to buy you out, no additional player hoops needed.

Yes, WoW has mods that will do that for you, but DFO goes a step further with this next item.

3) Showing the average auction price for any listed item (assuming it's listed often enough to have a record)

Whether you're a buyer or seller, the DFO auction house will tell you the historical average price something goes for. If you're a seller and the auction house is currently empty of that item, you have a baseline to set your buyout for. This also tells you whether or not everyone else is currently gouging.

I'm not sure how this is determined, but I assume it's over a period of several days as I've seen the average price change over the course of days, but not over hours. So as a buyer, it lets you know whether something is currently overpriced, and you can choose to wait (or not) as your pocketbook allows. This was immensely helpful as a new player who was looking to buy some quest items. They looked ridiculously expensive, but without the average price helper, I wouldn't have known they were currently overpriced. I waited until the next day and was able to buy them for a third of the previous days' listings. (They were still overpriced, but low enough that I could tolerate it.)

4) Account bound banks

I'm an alt person. Rather than focusing super hard on one character, I like to have lots of them stuck in various stages of development. In WoW that means that if I want to send something to an alt, I have to put in a mailbox. Sometimes, because of the number of alts, I'm not even sure who needs an item most so certain items might end up in a ridiculous mailbox daisy chain bouncing between alts until I find who needs it.

In DFO this is solved by a special bank for any items that are bind on account or capable of being traded between unrelated characters. So things that are "soulbound," to use WoW parlance, are still stuck with whoever earned them, but everything else can be shoved into the account bound and retrieved by alts as needed. No shuffling things through mailboxes.

5) In game encyclopedia of where every equipment drop in the game comes from

WoW has a nice dungeon feature which has in-game maps, boss strategies, etc. for every dungeon and raid in the game. By clicking on each boss, it's possible to see what loot they have. This is nice when you're going on a raid, but if you're looking for a very specific item and you don't know where to start, you usually just end up asking someone or going to a third party web site like Wowhead and typing it in to search.

DFO allows you to open up an encyclopedia in game and you can look for every piece of equipment based on rarity and equipment type, and then from there it's possible to look at the individual item stats and where they drop or where they can be bought/crafted. You can also see the stats while you're at it, so you can decide whether you want that item in preference to another.

I suspect there are mods that allow this as well, but again, this is not something natively supported.

6) Mileage system

I think WoW has tried to find ways to reward players just for playing and doing what they want, but the game doesn't feel like it's ever quite hit the mark, because it generally boils down to giving people gear, and better gear comes from raids. It's not that there are only gear-based rewards, but a lot of times it feels like the rewards are gated behind having the gear to do something.

For instance, it's common to have a special cosmetic reward for having completed a difficult challenge. And while it's fine to have something to strive to, there's no "thank you for simply playing."

DFO has something called "Mileage," which is earned by completing dungeons of an appropriate level (which can be done solo and is what the player has already been doing the entire game anyway). The character does not need to be max level and a level 30 character earns mileage as the same rate as a level 90.

Mileage can be used to buy a variety of things, from avatar appearances to in-game tokens that can be exchanged for equipment, to experience boosting potions to use while leveling, and other consumables specific to the DFO ecosystem. While nothing in there is so incredible I'd go out of my way to earn mileage for them, they're very nice quality of life things to get after I've already been playing.

As of this writing I have enough Mileage to buy 390 Demon Invitations, which is a hefty bonus as DIs are used for chances at epic equipment during special dungeon runs. It would take me 13 million gold to buy this normally, and while 13 million does not go as far in DFO as it would in WoW it is still a fair chunk of money.

But the reality is, I probably won't spend all my Mileage on DIs because I don't expect to become an end game raider. So I will probably spend a good chunk of my Mileage on avatar appearances and potions to increase the amount of gold dropped during my next few dungeon runs.

It's nice having this kind of flexibility. And while WoW has activities where you can gradually accumulate currency or reputations towards something, it's always tied to a particular faction or activity. There's no general purpose bucket, so there's no happy surprise where you can suddenly get something that you want without realizing that you've been working to earn it this entire time.

Conclusion

It isn't that I think DFO is wildly better in WoW, particularly since they take very different approaches to their games, but having spent most of my MMO life in the World of Warcraft ecosystem, I haven't had much opportunity to see how other companies do things. Prior to DFO I didn't think things were particularly better on the other side, especially when so many games end up ape-ing WoW to some degree or another.

Even then, these are mostly quality of life issues, particularly with the Auction House. I don't use it too heavily in DFO yet, but the Auction House has been a great source of in-game wealth for me in WoW and now that I've seen how DFO's works it irks me that we don't have some of these things as a baseline in World of Warcraft. It would save so much hassle!