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I've been sitting on this idea for a long time. Well, two ideas, just that now I feel that they deserve to be combined.
After thinking through it, I feel that what trove is lacking right now is actually not progression. I've had my fair share of fun collecting items, but what made collecting items the most important is that they were abundant enough to feel well-spaced.
In the end-game, I find that the only sources of progression are to wait for updates and monthly dragons. As a player above mastery 200, I feel that levelling up no longer feels enjoyable - collecting new items does not directly affect gameplay, and events are actually just stimulated progression. I'm lost in the sea of "too many things to do", yet none of these things actually make me better in any way. You can max out your first class, and proceed on to the second class, the third, the fourth - but the excitement of leveling up and seeing new things WHILE leveling up is gone.
Yet, I'm one of the few who can say I enjoy grinding. I spend my fridays killing enemies non-stop in the shadow towers because artificial progression is still progression. Buying things makes me feel good, regardless of how these things help me. Eating dragon souls - whether farmed or bought - make me happy. On a separate but related note - I also don't ever find a need to venture through dungeons or kill the little mobs that players pass by on the way to the boss.
This brings me to my first idea:
Questboards are essentially monster-farming tasks. This is a staple in a lot of RPGs - you get a quest from an NPC to kill x number of zombies in location Z, complete it, go back to him for experience and gold.
However, I don't want experience and gold to be the reward.
I have enough of that. Instead, I want these quests to give what I call Monster Ambers. I used to play a game called Granado Espada / Sword of the New World where you could complete for-fun quests and obtain these little cool things called Ambers, which allow you to summon an exact copy of whichever monster you were hunting - for use in faction wars and for laughing at (the monsters were as weak as the ones that spawn naturally)
But I don't want that either. That's a novelty, and won't provide anything for the players except laughter. Instead, I want to integrate it with my second idea:
2. Monster Summonables (Think Pokemons!)
Essentially, you will be doing questboards to obtain Ambers - which are used similarly to dragon Souls. These ambers will be used to firstly unlock the monster you were farming. Subsequent ambers used will level up the monster, and grant additional health/damage/stats (basically uber 1 to uber 6 upgrades) - MAYBE even unlock special attacks at a certain point! More importantly, I WANT THESE AMBERS TO GIVE MASTERY. I want MORE THINGS TO UNLOCK - AS MANY AS IT TAKES TO KEEP ME OCCUPIED IN TROVE.
The questboard will only allow players to take on 1 quest at a time. It can be anything as simple as "Farm 10 bees to obtain a Bee Amber", and it will block access to all other quests. You must also unlock each monster in a biome-tree to access the more interesting ones such as bosses - you can choose not to level them up, but you have to "own" bees, mushrooms, poison mushrooms, to reach mushroom emperors and monarches and golden scarabs.
An example of my system:
Kill 25 Fungal Warriors and Receive a Reward!
- 1x Fungal Warrior Amber
- 20 Mushroom Chunks
Once you use 5 Fungal Warrior Ambers, you unlock Fungal Warrior as a selectable Monster Summon, and gain 15 mastery points.
Further Ambers you use will upgrade the Fungal Warrior in tiered systems similar to dragons - 3 Ambers for level 2, 5 Ambers for level 3, 10 Ambers for level 4, and 50 Ambers for Max level (which can grant your monster some sort of stat bonus or special attack, or even a special look like glowing VFX)
But wait, how do you summon your creature?
3. HUNTING TRAILS (Questboards again!)
The second quest-type in Questboards are Hunting Trails, which are GROUP quests similar to challenges:
You select "Hunting Trails Assignment" on the questboard. This is a once-a-day activation. You will then be assigned to a biome - you are then given a timeframe to eliminate as many enemies as you can alongside team members that signed up. At the end of the hunting trail which lasts 60 minutes, you are given a rating based on how many dungeons you cleared, how many enemies you killed, how much total team damage was dealt, and how much experience was earned. This rating is then standardized to a rewards system which grants "Summon Totems"
Summon Totems are special 1 hour tokens that unlock the ability to summon your chosen monster using a hotkey. Without this summon totem, your monster will NOT be summonable. On top of that, summoned monsters have a natural death cooldown, which means that upon death they will have a cooldown timer based on what type of monster they are (a minion would have less cooldown than a boss summon)
Why do I want to restrict how long you can summon your mob for? SO THAT YOU HAVE TO GRIND FOR THEM! I want to create a perishable good that is of high value, moderately unnecessary to the average user, yet extremely valuable for end-game players seeking to maximise their damage. This transfers trove flux from the top group of players to new players, reducing some of the progression inequity in the game.