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Today we announced two premium items that are available for purchase in the Goblinworks Shop. This blog explains in more detail what we're doing, why we're doing it and how it will all work.
One of our design objectives for the game is that we want the players to make lasting and meaningful changes to the world in ways that all players can see and interact with. The major system that will provide that functionality is the creation of structures.
Settlements, Points of Interest and Outposts provide the basic economic underpinning of the world. These structures help you shape the strategic landscape and play a huge role in how your Settlement will evolve. At the same time, they are necessarily large investments and take coordination between lots of players to build, maintain, and protect. Some players would like to have individual buildings they can call their own.
We're introducing premium Player Owned structures for this reason. We are necessarily limited in how much land we can devote to individual structures, so they will be pretty valuable. Because they are a premium feature, we are making sure that nothing they do is mechanically unique compared to other structures. They have plenty of convenience features, and most importantly give you a place to call your own and meet with your friends.
In our Alpha testing there are two big mechanical systems which are not implemented yet and the lack of those systems means that some of the play you may have seen streamed on Twitch (or experienced yourself) isn't fully representative of how the game will actually work. Those two systems are Encumbrance and Power.
Encumbrance will limit the amount of stuff a character can carry without taking speed penalties and eventually being unable to even move until you reduce the weight your character is trying to carry. Currently without encumbrance, characters are running around the game world with huge inventories of items and lots of harvested resources and processed components. When encumbrance is enabled, that will stop. Characters will need to return to their home bases frequently to offload the material they've accumulated then return to wherever they were adventuring when they reached their inventory limits. These trips will take time and the characters may be vulnerable to ambushes while in transit.
Power is a resource which limits how often you can use the most powerful abilities your character has mastered. Power will not automatically regenerate (currently in the Alpha it regenerates at a slow rate but that is a placeholder before we implement the real mechanic.) Instead characters will recover Power when they are within a Settlement or are visiting a Tavern. Lack of Power will be a serious detriment to continuing to adventure or engage in PvP.
Base Camps are a great way to make both of these game systems more meaningful. You'll be able to use a Base Camp to store the fruits of your harvesting and monster slaying without having to run back to your Settlement as often. And you'll be able to restore your Power as well. So creating a Base Camp will let you and your friends stay "in the field" for a longer period, increasing the value you're generating.
We know that many players are very interested in player-owned housing. It has always been our plan to enable you to own and decorate your own space, invite friends to visit, and have a personalized place you can call your own.
At first, the interface to the Smallhold will be like the Crafting interface. You will click the door to the structure and be taken to a screen showing various things you can interact with at the Smallhold. Your character won't enter a virtual space or be able to see other characters at the Smallhold, but all of those things are possible in the future as we iterate on this design. While you are accessing a Smallholding your character will be removed from the larger game world and won't be vulnerable to attacks.
The Smallhold gives you a soulbinding point that doesn't require a Thread. And it will restore your Power. It can serve as a base of operations for an ad hoc party, a company or for an individual who wants to homestead a place in the wilderness. And it is a meeting place and a communication system for you and your friends.
We know that one of the things a lot of players are worried about is the risk that the game becomes "pay to win". We have said from the outset that we will never sell items in the store that are mechanically superior to things the players can craft using the in-game systems. We think that these two structures strike a nice balance of value and utility while remaining true to that commitment. Neither the Base Camp nor the Smallhold offers any function that is not available via another mechanism or process in the game.
The biggest mechanical advantage both Base Camps and Smallholds introduce is the ability to regenerate Power while still in the wilderness. There is a player character crafted system to do this as well - the creation of "Campfire" objects. These are craftable items that you can deploy to regenerate Power similar to the way a Base Camp or a Smallhold works. They have a limited duration and are consumed when you use them, and they can be Threaded and/or looted or destroyed when a character carrying them is killed. But the main feature - Power regeneration - works just like the Base Camp and Smallhold.
We have ideas for a wide variety of premium items. We are introducing these two first because they're relatively easy to develop and deploy, they are complementary to game systems that are going to be impacting players immediately, and because we want to see how the community reacts to their introduction and use. The introduction of these premium items will help us learn how to structure future, more complex offers in ways that are highly regarded and welcomed by the players.
We think it's also important to remind the community that these buildings don't replace the Settlements, Points of Interest or Outposts. You won't be able to buy a solution to access to character training and crafting with real money. You have to earn those capabilities by working within the Settlement system.
Making your ability to build something really meaningful implies that someone else might want to destroy what you have built. We have to balance a variety of competing interests in this area of maximizing meaningful human interaction.
First, you paid for these structures and you'll get to keep them no matter what. If they are destroyed, that is a setback but not a loss. The ability to build the structures will remain in your inventory and you can reconstruct them an infinite number of times. These items will not be destroyed if your character dies while carrying them and they will not drop as loot.
Second, you need to know when the structure is vulnerable. When you're close to a Settlement - when you are in a Hex controlled by a Settlement - your structures will share that Settlement's PvP window so you can expect to have to deal with threats at the same time as the rest of the area. When you're in the wilderness you won't have the luxury of any "safe time" - but that's the risk you take for operating far from a Settlement's security!
Third, we don't want destroying a structure to be a casual act of vandalism. To destroy a Base Camp should take a solo character a very long time, or a group of characters a reasonably long time - certainly enough time for you to receive a notice that the camp is under attack, rally a defense, and engage the hostile forces. Destroying a Smallhold is a significant operation that can't be achieved simply by individual characters. Destroying a Smallhold will require the use of a Siege Engine, and that is a game system that won't be built or deployed until we are close to Open Enrollment, and it will require a lot of materials and highly specialized characters (likely more than one) to operate it. Plus it will need to be moved into place to attack the Smallhold.
However we do want to have a way to discourage someone from occupying land desired by others just because they claimed the land first. Your Smallhold will be vulnerable to being damaged by individual character abilities. Think of it as having windows broken and walls defaced. This minor damage accumulates and makes it more expensive to maintain the building. The upkeep cost will increase the more damage is inflicted on the structure. You may have to decide to abandon a location that is under constant attack if you decide the costs of remaining in place outweigh the benefits.
Fourth, we need to consider how conflicts over Base Camps and Smallholds should interact with the alignment and reputation system. Attacking someone's property without other considerations (like feuds) should have pretty significant consequences. Likewise, defending your property should not incur substantial penalties. We'll be working with the community to set the degree of consequence from PvP involving these structures and fine tuning the variables over time.
We have lots of ideas of how to expand this basic system over time. We can offer several varieties of Smallhold structures. We can offer various decorations. It may be possible that player-character crafted objects can interact with a purchased building (like buying a paint kit from another character, for example).
We have ideas on ways you can improve a basic structure to expand its capabilities and add new capabilities. Maybe you will be able to hire an NPC Thornguard to keep watch, for example.
Of course we'd like to have interior spaces you can decorate, with furniture, display cases, trophies, etc. Allowing players to enter the Smallholds, interact within them, and customize them extensively is a part of our road map for developing this feature.