[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

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Hello Co-Devs,
Lets put coding to the side for a bit, and discus a bit about design, classic servers (5017 and lower), game issues, and many more.

Below are a few topics that constantly come to my mind whenever I come back to CO, or even when I'm at work integrating yet another SAP system to some god-knows what main-frame system. So hopefully you are opinionated and we can foster a discussion that will touch as many areas of the game as possible. The aim is not necessary to find "the solution" but to see how minor (or major?) systems could be tweaked/iterated on to provide a better gameplay experience.

The only important thing to keep in mind, the below topics are from the point of view of a server running 5017 or lower, but also any numbers I suggest are just numbers. For example if I say "Something needs a nerf of 50%" is just that, I didn't math out what the value should actually be, it's just a guideline to move the discussion further. This of that Old School Runescape is. It is a classic Runescape version, with many changes/improvements to the original game.

Consumables (Potions, Ammo):
I can safely say that I never liked how CO handles consumables. It feels like the "weak" classes have to use a disproportionately higher amount of consumables. So lets split this into 2 main areas of discussion:
- HP:
Not sure about you guys, but I really hate the "spammy" nature of HP potions. I always tried to imagine how would the game play if, lets say, HP potions would have a 2 to 5 seconds cooldown. Problematic, of course. I can see that for PvP Fire Tao might need some adjustments... maybe even Archers, while for PvE mobs might need to hit 3-5 times less so you can still survive a big stack of mobs. How could we fix this "Pot until there's smoke coming out of your keyboard" system of the game?

- Mana / Ammo:
So we have (arguably) the 2 lowest damage dealing classes requiring an extra "thing" to function. Mainly Archer need Arrows and Taos being Mana hungry. In this section, I think that Water Tao have it the worst, while Archer gets Hundreds or Thousands of arrows per inventory slot, Taos get several casts per inventory slot. It feels like the NetDragon devs didn't "finish" implementing their vision for how this system should work.

Water Tao - Classic
If a totally CO new player starts as Tao and then goes to Water Tao, I don't see him sticking with the game for too long. It has no damage, it's hard to solo level it, 80% of their skills are very niche/conditional and you get to spam "zap" all day long. Water taos are really bad for PvE... and somewhat decent in PvP? For a modern look at this class, should it be "adjusted"? For PvE more damage, for PvP... maybe a cooldown on Revive?

Damage / One-shot mechanics
Oh how much I love FB and SS, but do they have a place? Assume 2 Trojans, exact gear, level, etc. are fighting. Should they 1-shot themselves?
In my mind, a big no. Maybe 3 to 4 hits? Maybe the one-shot should be a mini game, some sort of event?
Same applies to monsters that attack you. It feels like the game is trying toooo hard to make you get to grinding and get the Quality / Composition of your gear higher. But should it be that punishing when leveling? Shouldn't gear upgrades be more of a end-game activity?

Water Devil / Second 2nd Reborn Quest / Generic Bottlenecks
Some of the most "notorious" bottlenecks of the game, where they pushed you into micro-transactions. Assume a fully Non-P2W server, where there is no need to be pushed to spend money, how would you change the Water Devil to not be camped by Trojans+Water combos - but still keep it rewarding for the player doing it? What about the gruesome 2nd reborn quest? Should not this be "an adventure", with a big climax when you fight Satan? And less of a chore + frustration (kill stealing the spawn-able bosses)? Sure those two examples could be considered "low hanging fruits", but those are some very clearly designed systems/steps to push you to spend some money.

Item Composition
How many thousand of +1 items do you need to find/buy to get to +9? To.damn.many! Other than simply making mobs drop +2/+3....+7/+8 items, what could be done here? I had this idea where some sort of "prestige" system could be implemented, and as you use an item it has a chance to upgrade to the next plus. Think about this as a "Leveling System" for the + on the items.

Class Promotion(s)
Simply put, underwhelming. this should be something amazing, something you want to strive for! For in reality, you get one DB and some other junk which is not enough. Classic doesn't have that many skills either. Its just a chore. How can we get this system better?!

Catchup mechanics - How late players can play
So, you have a server, it has success (relative term!) and now you have new players joining the fun. But is it fun? Everyone around them is fully geared, everyone is smashing everything, but they aren't. How would you approach this "challenge"? When is implementing/changing already established systems too much, and makes the old players feel like they "worked for nothing, and new people get everything free"?

Thriving World
By design, PvP orientated games are made to make people quit the game. But, imaging this is not happening! From your experience, how many people do you feel like the world could theoretically hold, before every map gets too crowded?

Thanks for reading this laid-back thread, hopefully I peaked your interest, now it is your to bring your own discussion topics/views to this thread!

[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

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So, the design of Conquer Online was specifically made to be instant. Every skill, though it has an animation cooldown, is other wise instant. If you have the stamina, health, and mana, you can perform an action. That design is very fundamentally "Conquer". When you start to think about modifications, I think keeping that spirit in mind is super important to maintain the "feel" of Conquer.

Like with HP potions, I agree that they're OP. But I feel like 2-5 seconds is way too long. Instead, maybe the market for potions should be what you can craft. Have it so there's a market for buying and selling potions controlled by demand or what you can craft. That way, you think twice about consuming them or using them too often. Or you increase the price of potions to be a little less reasonable / available. Though, you also have to consider leveling in that case, like having it so ever class has some sort of single-target / self-target healing spell.

With magic, the idea is that spells should hit harder at the cost of defense and a separate mana resource that drains faster. Most builds of magic users focus on being glass cannons or survival support - so I feel like the current archetypes of tao in Conquer work (water for survival support, fire for damage). So maybe the focus should be on providing water taos with more boons / opportunities to support others (outside of just GW). Like big bosses, for example.

When it comes to one-shots, I believe that's the exact feel of the game. Conquer takes inspiration from Chinese action movies where you're jumping around like crazy and getting super fatal blows once or twice. Maybe three times. To that, Conquer does a great job at emulating that feel. But the gear gap really hurts the competitiveness of the game. If anything, I think a logarithmic damage model would do Conquer better - have it so lower levels can take more hits while leveling up, but have skill increases slowly diminish in returns while game difficulty increases. Make it so those fine adjustments are necessary to not die in one shot, but that you're character also can't take more than 2-3 hits from other players at similar high levels. Some games already do this, so it'd be fun to see that in Conquer a bit.

The rest I'm sorta meh about. I think quest, market, and world interaction is all the server owner's responsibility for a balanced game. Though, I do think class promotion could be better. Like get skill points maybe per level to put into spell leveling and such. Get a talent tree going with more options for weapon skills (like phoenix) based on your class. Really dig into class differences and building stronger, more unique builds. Like the ability to specialize a trojan as an poison assassin with double daggers that pierce armor.

Your last question actually intrigues me as well... I think there need to be some safe zones from PvP. An all PvP world is brutal, and though some may argue that's Conquer, I disagree. There needs to be some downtime / other options in the game other than just PvP. If you only cater to PvP, then you only attract one type of player (while the other 3/4ths of players miss out). Map crowdedness could be a problem with how PvP is designed in that game... but I don't think a private server would ever get crowded enough for that. More farming and leveling locations would probably be a good idea. More maps and big towns to visit for leveling, quests, PVP arenas, etc.

Hope you enjoyed my brain dump as well. Cheers.
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[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

3
I think you are absolutely right on the points, and one things that I really love about it is the "feeling" even tho flawed at many corners, it does feel good.
For the logarithmic damage stuff, I was even brainstorming one day, how would the world feel if everything scales to your level (up to a point) basically giving you the option to play as you want/where you want. Think like the Seasons in OSRS.

I have many "ideas" that I would wish to try out, like region locked accounts, HardCore (death is perma), etc. Just don't have the time, nor community to try them out and see what works/doesn't.

Lets see what the rest also think about the state and what they could bring to this topic!

[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

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Akhlis wrote: Sat Apr 15, 2023 7:04 am I think you are absolutely right on the points, and one things that I really love about it is the "feeling" even tho flawed at many corners, it does feel good.
For the logarithmic damage stuff, I was even brainstorming one day, how would the world feel if everything scales to your level (up to a point) basically giving you the option to play as you want/where you want. Think like the Seasons in OSRS.

I have many "ideas" that I would wish to try out, like region locked accounts, HardCore (death is perma), etc. Just don't have the time, nor community to try them out and see what works/doesn't.

Lets see what the rest also think about the state and what they could bring to this topic!
Scaling the world certainly presents additional challenge, but it also takes away that feeling of accomplishment and the hunting mechanic. Seasons like that are usually isolated from standard gameplay, right? Like Destiny 3's seasons where the rules of the game change, but you're making a fresh character to participate in that season - so it doesn't matter. You already accept the rules of the season as being nonstandard. Maybe PvP competitions could benefit from some sort of scaling for creating equal competition... but again, as long as that's a known rule of the mode. I could see seasons doing pretty well for Conquer, as long as they still work with the game's core mechanics.
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If you wanna learn more about me and my projects: visit my portfolio website. There, you can find my free, open-source work and articles about game development. Due to contractual restrictions: I am not available for job requests or volunteer work.

About Me | GitLab Profile | Website

[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

5
I think you're spot on with a lot of your analysis (and several of your proposed solutions), but here's some thoughts on a few of your other topics.
Akhlis wrote: Fri Apr 14, 2023 11:31 pm - Mana / Ammo:
So we have (arguably) the 2 lowest damage dealing classes requiring an extra "thing" to function. Mainly Archer need Arrows and Taos being Mana hungry. In this section, I think that Water Tao have it the worst, while Archer gets Hundreds or Thousands of arrows per inventory slot, Taos get several casts per inventory slot. It feels like the NetDragon devs didn't "finish" implementing their vision for how this system should work.
Those are also, incidentally, the classes that can deal damage from long distances with minimal mouse precision required. An archer doesn't deal much damage, but can also be played by somebody with ten thumbs and triple digit ping to moderate success. I feel like you're also overlooking the implications of warriors and trojans also being resource-limited, but it's by stamina rather than mana/arrows.
Akhlis wrote: Fri Apr 14, 2023 11:31 pm Water Devil / Second 2nd Reborn Quest / Generic Bottlenecks
Some of the most "notorious" bottlenecks of the game, where they pushed you into micro-transactions. Assume a fully Non-P2W server, where there is no need to be pushed to spend money, how would you change the Water Devil to not be camped by Trojans+Water combos - but still keep it rewarding for the player doing it? What about the gruesome 2nd reborn quest? Should not this be "an adventure", with a big climax when you fight Satan? And less of a chore + frustration (kill stealing the spawn-able bosses)? Sure those two examples could be considered "low hanging fruits", but those are some very clearly designed systems/steps to push you to spend some money.
Scarcity breeds conflict, which I think is important in a PVP-heavy game. TQ took advantage of the situation to sell you the answers, but in theory systems like that are good for generating content in the form of player to player interactions. The flip side to such systems, however, is it becomes possible to monopolize the resource/spawn/reward if a large enough or strong enough group of players decide to commit to it. Perhaps an ideal server hands out "must have" items liberally, while other items and bonuses that are merely "nice to have" have limited access or supply. An example of this from later patches would be the Snow Banshee world boss.
Akhlis wrote: Fri Apr 14, 2023 11:31 pm Thriving World
By design, PvP orientated games are made to make people quit the game. But, imaging this is not happening! From your experience, how many people do you feel like the world could theoretically hold, before every map gets too crowded?
They don't have to make people quit, but Conquer does excel at giving people as many 'exit points' as possible. There are a dozen different situations you could find yourself in where any normal person will go "well this sucks, I'm out." More successful full loot PVP games have put a lot of work into ensuring that there's content available for the 90% of the player base that aren't hardcore PVP fanatics. Take a look at something like EVE Online or Albion Online setup their world and economy to facilitate that.

On a Conquer server, if you have enough active players that every single market booth is full, and there's a bit of competition to claim a spot when one opens up, I think you're getting pretty close to "too crowded". That would be ~150+ characters actively looking to sell things. I'm not sure how you'd ever get to that point, since there aren't enough hunting/plvling spots to continuously generate items for said sellers. Maybe a very active mining scene?

[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

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Wow, so there are a lot of topics to cover at once haha.

Consumables (Potions, Ammo):
To change this, the entire game would need to be redesigned. I like Spirited's idea of a crafting system and that could have been a great way for them to healthily develop the game instead of turning it into a gotcha/casino spin. I think the removal of ammo was a great choice for the game. Though, keeping the option for special ammo would have been nice. I enjoyed the unique arrows a lot. It would be interesting to create an AoE effect on single-target attacks, allowing archers to attack the guild war pole directly without having to scatter.


- HP:
I believe HP worked fine as it was. Giving/taking a 1 shot KO really is part of the feel of the game. A change to damage would allow for pot changes/cool downs, though would turn it into more of a Classic WoW feel for PvP I believe.


- Mana / Ammo:
I feel that there is a misunderstanding for taos. Fire Taos were a ranged, high damage, class that had a high cost as well. This was meant to be expensive because there is safety in being ranged. If players optimized against taos, with earrings, they had less defense and would get wrekt'd by other physical damage dealers. A mana backsword helped greatly but had to be made, forcing it to be more expensive. A gourd allowed more points in vit but was more expensive. The same goes for water taos having high mana costs for revives and buffs. Taos just were not made to be new player friendly, needing you to have another way to make an income to fund them.


Water Tao - Classic
With the previous section stating taos were not made to be new player friendly, especially in today's aspects of "I'm going to play a healer class," we can focus on the different types of water taos. Yes, you had the tanky, revive, and buff other play-style. You also had melee water taos, which turned into a menace with either cyclone/superman, and the ability to buff themselves. As 2nd rb came out, this only got worse with having both and reflecting haha. Creating the ability to switch between damage and support would really allow for this class to thrive and feel more alive though. Doing that without needing alternate gear though is the trick. One possible option would be a passive that would reduce damage taken but also damage dealt, activate to swap to increase damage dealt and taken.


Damage / One-shot mechanics
At first, I enjoyed the idea of a log damage formula. The more I think about it, however, the less I like it. There was a restriction for being able to PK other players under a certain level, back when TC was open PK as well (sorry market accounts after a server maint haha). I think a "Player is too low/high level to be damaged by you," which changes based on the map, would be really healthy.

A Gem rework would also be great, as there were so many gems that just fell out. I always enjoyed the idea of elemental damage being added but sadly it didn't go the way I'd like. A skill tree for weapon skills, like SS/FB, would be interesting. Add different types of elemental damage, add crit or increased damage, possibly increased range or width... so many options to consider.


Water Devil / Second 2nd Reborn Quest / Generic Bottlenecks
Bottlenecking is an interesting feature, as it is viewed almost negatively when it is such a great feature in games too. It can allow you to catch up to where you "should be" before going into the next section of the game. Water Devil would be extremely difficult for a common player just due to the mob difficulty and finding the correct spawn. 2nd reborn took forever but allowed for extra income from drops to be collected, giving gear boosts and meteor stashes a chance to build before the increased experience needed to level during 2nd rb. Unless actual quest chains and lore were added, I don't think these could really have that big sense of "awe" and "accomplishment."


Item Composition
A unique feature that many games don't have is upgrading the level of your items to the next stage. Taking your 110 armor and met spamming for 120 just isn't a concept most games take. This is a vastly underrated mechanic IMO. Meteors were a great item sink, basically were the backbone of the economy before CPs, and were obtainable by all levels.

A unique way to change gear in the game would be to "cap" gear to a certain +. For example, Dragon Armor (level 110 trojan body) can only get to +3 as a normal, 4 unique, 5 elite, 6 super. From there, an end game boss/dungeon could be added to drop something to transform form Super to Legendary, allowing for +7/8.Fully Legendary gear could unlock another end game piece of content that allowed for +9.

If you don't want people to hunt 1000s of +1s, which honestly kept the economy healthy since you couldn't just compose a +8 into a +1 originally haha, reduce the # of composition points needed. Instead of 3 +5s to make a plus 6, could lower it to 2 +5s (as an example). The composition system was the only thing to strive for in classic though, along with sockets.


Class Promotion(s)
I like Spirited's idea for a class tree, it could make it very unique. If left alone, you could lock it behind a quest chain with lore to add a bit more flavor to it. While there were limited skills, Conquer did one thing great: Class identity. I discussed taos a bit but look at warriors and trojans. Two physical damage classes with no overlapping skills. This is not something I expect to find in games today. Too many try to appeal to the idea of every class able to do everything and that can make "what to play" be a blurry line game. Having clear expectations is great, and weapon skills not being class related allowed for a solid class identity with room for playstyle overlap in a healthy way.

Catchup mechanics - How late players can play

Drop rates being calculated by level difference could be good. For example, mobs at your level would give a 50% bonus to the drop rate. Mobs ~10-20 levels under would give 100%. ~21+ under would drop to ~20%. This would keep spawns open for players based on level, along with forcing accounts to move up over time (kill enough low-level mobs and you'll level up still after all, minmacs if anyone remembers going from 90-100 killing those and giant apes).

Having content/bosses for each level that can't be camped by higher levels. Change peace mode to allow for item pick up, even if a player is sitting on it, to prevent the annoyance of low/high-level accounts camping on a drop that isn't theirs. Could also have drops auto loot to inventory depending on what the drop is too.


Thriving World
I still remember Conquer being the original "season" mode haha. New server every other month, everyone would hop and play, do the same the next server. As servers got older, they would get merged and the season "ended" basically. I remember servers constantly having the max players online, with hundreds of accounts logged into and jumping around. It was almost to the point of having to walk in TC square because of how packed it was haha.

A main server with a seasonal server would be great. At the end of the season, all accounts get transferred to the main server. Could give something unique, like increased drops or success rates but wouldn't have to. We all love a fresh start haha. This could also allow new players to avoid the veterans, which helps with the above catch-up mechanics.


I just found this community recently and was surprised to see posts/replies from this month. I'm actually working on making a version of conquer with some of the features I mentioned above. I haven't worked on something like this in a while, roughly 10 years now, but am looking forward to getting something creative online for others to enjoy the game. I wasn't really able to find a conquer server that felt right, so hopefully I can make it!

[Discussion] Conquer Online Classic+

7
Every class had a way to play it when levelling.

Warriors absolutely had to have health potions period, unless they one shotted stuff to fill the exp bar, then used superman to oneshot the stuff that really gave you the experience. Can hit flying archers only with their exp skill flying moon. Every so often people would get the endless superman by killing enough to fill the xp bar again while one was still going. The intent was to group with a tao to heal you, as I recall. The useprman damage boost is their equivalent of scatter for levelling purposes. Warriors who use sword/blade can also use scentsword/fastblade to hit at a distance with skill.

Trojans hit harder than warriors, but couldn't take hits as well, so until they got their spirit healing skill for stamina, they also needed health potions to level at all. And potions are better than spirit healing. Can't hit a flying archer at all, bu just wait for them to land and then bust out with the fastblade. If you can fastblade something to death before running out of stamina, then you can just sit down afterwards to get your stamina back and not get hit, and not have to pot. Trojans also had the most health. A switch to robot would full heal you as well, as well as the switch back.

Taos REQUIRE mana potions, until they get meditation. you need to sit for a short time to get your stamina back to refill your mana. and it's still slower than potions, so in practice, you'd still load up on them. Taos can hit flying archers, but to do that, they have to usually get close enough for the archer to shoot back, and they also usually have good magic defense, so they are still hard to oneshot.

Archers don't need health or mana options, because you aren't supposed to get hit. instead arrows are required, and absolutely no way to get more without paying ingame currency, period. They have insane levelling ability once they get scatter, and with skill you were able to kite multiple enemies that could really ruin your day if they hit you for massive exp, but can very rarely PK someone who isn't out of pots and scrolls, because they don't have the damage needed to oneshot, and the arrows needed to pk without that are expensive and have small stacks. Archers were for hunting gear and powerleveling others, and died to PKers.

The ability to PK in one shot was essential to the balance, such that it was. Potency was put in because whale archers were whining that Trojans were 1 shotting them despite their paid for gear. This totally ruined the balance that was there. Was a HUGE money grab pure and simple. And then the ninja was put in. There skills were OP for PK, pure and simple, and was another blatant money grab. Blocking fly fro archers, so you could one shot them while they were stuck on the ground?

If the ability for high levels to oneshot everyone else including other high levels is removed, then a cooldown needs to be put in on the potions. These are both very significant changes. And there's still the issue of instant gate scrolls, which are a second way to avoid getting PKed outside of the metzone. That one is not so easy to solve. So i think the ability to pk in one shot has to stay to avoid breaking the game.

I do remember there was such a thing as a "melee water Tao". These were reborn options. The best one for 1st reborn was warrior to water tao, which lets you keep superman. There were more choices for second reborn.