So! After some talk with others, I've decided to make a thread about this. As an obvious disclaimer, I don't know anything about Aet's development or current credit sales, so I offer a HUGE APOLOGY in advance if I step on any toes or say stuff that seems presumptuous. That is not the intent!
We're seeing a bunch of new artifacts coming out, and I think Aetolia could snag some extra cash for itself, while also making us happy, if we see more of the fluffy artifacts. I know I, personally, have more credits sunk into non-comm/fun credit stuff than I do into PK stuff (my house alone must be pushing 5000 credits), and I am someone who PKs a lot. I don't know what Aet's current sales are like, but I know that other games make a lot of money by tapping into the vanity/novelty market - Blizzard, for example, made several million dollars off just the celestial steed's sales because, hey, we like being fancy and riding pretty sparkleponies. I totally bought one. And like four other pets off their store, because it was as easy as clicking a button and it cost less than grabbing a lunch from the cafe.
There seems to be this persistent view (at least among the players who I've chatted with about this, like I said, I dunno what things are like behind the scenes!) that PK is where the big credits are, and it's certainly true that we will pay credits for combat perks and PK skills, but a re-design of existing credit/artifact options, as well as more additions for PvE/PvP/utility might reveal that people are happy to spend just as much, if not more, money in other areas. This would also have a trickle-down effect, with orgs with lots of non-comms rewarded through credit sales for creating RP-rich environments, which ultimately benefits the game - activity, period, can and should be capitalized on, and if non-comms want to spend money, why not toss out more options for them to do so! Many games tap into these types of microtransactions, even if the items don't grant any sort of additional "power" - prestige, customization and vanity are HEAVY motivators for microtransaction sales, and can be a great source of income, while also expanding out fun options to enhance the game world, which then creates a more engaging environment for new players. Also, it can't be understated just how much we like being unique and important - heck, that's the main reason I shelled out 1500 credits on my crazy rod of dispersion. Wasn't there an insanely huge purchase a while back in Achaea's artifact auction for a custom NPC, with the price something crazy like 11k credits? People like leaving a mark and having cool tools to facilitate this.
IMHO, one key to getting decent purchases from non-PK avenues is to look at not only price but HOW these items are purchased. The thing is, those types of sales work best (to drag me in at least) if they are impulse buys. Right now, most of the pet, house and crafting stuff is priced too high to make me really consider getting them - I'm not going to drop 400 credits on a ladle, but I was fine paying 200 credits for the dyekit, simply because 200 credits is low enough to be worth the convenience. The only reason I've tossed so many credits at my house is because I get credits IG pretty well from contests like the bardics, but if I were spending actual money, I would not be interested in a lot of the stuff for sale that gives low utility.
That doesn't mean I *wouldn't* spend money on fluff, though. My very first "real" credit purchase for Aetolia was buying myself a flowerpot for my birthday - it was cheap enough to be tempting and while it wasn't an impulse buy, I didn't feel like I was throwing away a ton of credits on something silly, because it's not that costly.
One great change Aetolia has made to facilitate this sort of impulse purchase spending is the creation of the development ministry and its subsequent extension over to player housing expansion. Being able to bypass going through Raz and simply being able to plunk down some credits and instantly see a new room appear in your house? Brilliant and, trust me, that's been a BIG reason my house has chewed up so many of my credits. It's kinda addicting. Why not expand this concept out to other areas and make it easy to automate more types of RP additions and upgrades?
So, ramble done and now some concrete ideas:
- Change the approach to upgrades for non-PK/PvE items. Instead of diminishing credit returns (eg the cost jump from a level 1 sip ring to a level 3), encourage people to upgrade non-combat items by offering discounts the more you upgrade. This would drive more sales and also feed into the "collector" mindset, while making base purchases more attractive, as they are then an investment. For example, if you buy a woodcrafting knife, you could then add on the sewing power for a reduced price. That 400 credits then becomes not just a cost of 400 credits, but also a potential savings down the road when you get around to buying the other upgrades.
- Alternatively, halve the cost of crafting artifacts. The only one really even worth considering for most players is the woodcraft knife, as there's a ton of utility you get from that.
- Change artifact vials to be a pack of 3-6 (or even up to 10?) vials. Keep the price the same for tradein purchases, such as from giftbags, but make it a group of several vials. A single artifact vial is just not worth 50 credits, but a pack of 5? That's a lot more enticing.
- Heavily slash the cost for things like the lifevision and shroud artifacts. These don't give a huge bonus and you can emulate a lot of the effects through the racial skill system these days.
- Reduce the flowerpot price to 100 credits. Then, offer 3-5+ new flowerpot options (a Salurian flowerpot, a Delvian flowerpot, etc) with flowers from specific regions. Let people upgrade the pots and include a discount if you are expanding an existing flowerpot, in-line with my suggestion above. (eg 75 to add an extra region?)
- Utility stuff: as an example, artifact stasis bags/cold-pocket container/etc. Greater capacity than the normal enchant. You could even break them down into different types and make each one super cheap (cigarette case, picnic basket, jewelry box, scribe's satchel for letters/books, etc) with the ability to combine them together or add artifact powers onto the first one.
- Roleplay stuff: as an example, shopkeepers. Akin to house mobs, these are basically just mobs you can put in your shops to add flavor and emote through. Maybe include some commands/add-ons/etc. Sketched out an idea about this here.
- Tonssss more ideas for non-PK artifacts in this thread, so I'm not really going to sit and list a bunch of specific artifact ideas: http://forums.aetolia.com/discussion/62/artifact-ideas
My idea here is to get people buying the mounts and then spending the bulk of credits on upgrades, variety and customization. The end goal here is to increase credits spent, and imho an inexpensive purchase and gradual upgrades are far less daunting and gives people satisfaction off the bat, while having the potential to result in far more credits spent.
- Reduce the cost of credit mounts, perhaps by 1/2 or even more. The addition of bits only makes buying a credit mount less appealing.
- Add in a way to "upgrade" an existing mount to an arti mount. I am certain people would happily convert special mounts like the ones from the festival of stars into arti-versions.
- Slash the cost of artifact pets to be in line with these prices. Have the base costs here be fairly inexpensive.
- Refine the add-on system to be cheap and automated (eg, use an in game setup like artifact customization/cshout approvals), so people will be enticed into purchasing multiple upgrades, here and there, making impulse additions easy and maybe even a bit addictive
- Code in a random mount summoning option in horsemanship (and a similar one for minipets). Make it easy and inbuilt to summon a variety of mounts and suddenly players are encouraged to catch em all. Yes, I know players could code something like this individually - but being able to just use a command IG simplifies it and encourages people at a fundamental level to build a stable of mounts.
- Drive all this home by selling "pet bags" from either the website or the artifact shop (potential prize as well for giftbags/chests) which contains some random cute pet/mount item, eg a set of the new pet armor or a lump of sugar that adds a "THIS PET IS SUPER HAPPY!" line to the examine for the next RL day or even a chance for another free upgrade or a free pet/mount (very low chance, of course). If people don't have pets, it encourages them to buy one, and if they have pets, there are fun options they can win. Some players REALLY like gambling and will spend far too many credits on this. :P Give a bag out each time you spend credits on a pet upgrade, too, to make a system that feeds on itself and encourages people to get more upgrades.
- Add some extra add-on options: sentience for mini-pets, multi-person mount ability (lets other people follow as if they had the pacing skill), humgii power, maybe even some PvE perks, like an upgrade for your mount to intercept mob attacks ala mastiffs in the warhounds skillset.
- Streamline all of this through a nice syntax/menu system, like with houses. This would save time in the long run and facilitate us dumping our credits into making purdy/fancy mounts.
- Create synergy between houses and havens. Instead of having them as competing features, if you find a way to tie these in to each other, havens then become a sort of "hook" to lure people into buying houses, especially if houses offer a lot of cool and unique options that havens don't - and if houses are made comparatively cheaper to expand. Havens have introduced a lot of people to the fun of having your own special area, but the cost of houses deters many from building an actual house. Some ideas for how to integrate the two include: a house feature to link your haven to your house for others to use, new desirable house upgrades, maybe even a way to buy the base room of a house (and ONLY the base room) through a butt-load of haven points (which would then encourage people to spend credits to expand)
- Alternatively, let people just directly buy havens points with credits. Remove the gold purchase option, and make the credit cost more reasonable and scale better. Right now, you're looking at like...250 credits for 5 points, 500 for the next 5, etc. That's too high to be worth it for most people.
- Lower the prices for house stuff, especially for certain items (enchanting rooms, for example, are incredibly overpriced now that the haven option exists). Maybe consider lowering the cost across the board for wilderness estates, too, as it's pretty stupid expensive to do most anything with a house outside of a city.
- Akin to the pet bags mentioned above, add in a housing grab-bag people can buy with a chance for free room redescriptions, furniture varnish, room features, house upgrades, mobs, even another house deed, as well as some short-term RP items (a flower that gives a graffiti message about its pretty smell for a RL day, etc) to balance out the really nice stuff, and then reward these bags each time you buy a house upgrade.
- Expand the existing house code to let us submit most of the upgrades through the game, eg a room echo or room feature form field akin to artifact customizations. Emailing Raz is actually a deterrent to spending money - it may seem like a minor step, but the fewer steps there are between getting the credits and spending them, the more likely we are to do said spending.
Skillsets are a tricky addition to consider. Aetolia already has a TON of ways to spend lessons and I'd say that we probably suffer from a visual bloat which can be very daunting for new players (tangential, but I think we'd benefit from rolling a few of the general skillsets into each other simply to cut down on that starting mountain of investment new players have to tackle).
That being said, extra skillsets are a fun way for people to invest lessons and spice up their game experience with new stuff to do. IMHO, the best way to implement new skills is to augment core gameplay - WoW's new pet battle stuff is a good example of this. If you want to do it, great, and they offer alternative ways to help get xp or shinies, but new skills shouldn't be fundamental and necessary to learn, or else ugh, that just tires us out. Any additions here would be a lot more work and further reaching than simply artifact changes, so I'm including these more as food for thought, rather than concrete suggestions.
Some potential new miniskills/talents/tertiary skillsets could include:
- Navigation: Expand out the explorer rank stuff into an actual IG society/outpost, fold in the artifacts for monuments (does anyone actually buy those these days with the path find system?), give a skill akin to grace/celerity, give a skill that helps you hunt down quests to do, maybe a way to scale cliffs (which could then contain gatherable comms like feathers because plucking eagles is BORING), etc. Basically let people travel around and include some fun RP, explorer, quest stuff in here - this appeals to a certain type of gamer, one who would happily invest money to augment their knowledge and ability to scramble about everywhere.
- Beastmastery: Jack the warhound code and let players hunt down and tame their own mounts and minipets. Include a range of creatures throughout the world (eg like the common snake, everyone in Enorian has one, up to rare creatures that spawn only for short periods/in difficult areas that would take extensive hunting and a measure of luck to find). Suddenly there's a whole new fun economy (intrepid hunters could have a whole shop to sell their menagerie) and people could use these with the mount/pet changes mentioned above!
Anyways, just some (a lot) of thoughts on ways cool stuff could be introduced outside of the usual focus on PvP.