Let me be clear by prefacing that i am usually not one to make a post about games to discuss it. When a game is good i stay and enjoy it. When it’s bad i leave - silently. Like most people i just don’t care enough. But this time, i want to speak out for a lot of us other silent gamers. Because we i loved Titan Quest, the action rpg and i care about Grim Dawn:
We need a reason to stay.
Anyone following the action rpg market has probably come to similar conclusions:
There is Diablo 3 and there is Path of Exile.
Then there is nothing for a long while.
And then we see titles like Torchlight 2, Grim Dawn, and so on.
Why is that?
Diablo 3 is game that made me stay for a long while. But from the viewpoint of the developer it doesn’t matter. They only profit when i come (buy the game) - and when i go (less server hardware and people for service). It doesn’t matter if i stay and have fun or go somewhere else. Its selling point is a very smooth gameplay experience catering to casual players with a bit for everyone. But in the end it is an ocean wide puddle.
For Path of Exile (PoE) it is different. They only profit when i stay and become an addicted customer willing to spend ingame money. They also profit from highly enthusiastic fans, that are willing to spend a quarterly full price on something called supporter packs. Basically a way of giving the developers back and receiving lots of on gameplay chaning ingame goodies for it. This game obviously needs to come up with new ways to keep us entertained. A game like Diablo 3 doesn’t have to. There hasn’t been any kind of meaningfull update since 2 years.
Obviously Grim Dawn is not nearly in a similar league of budget. But that doesn’t mean it can’t profit from the experience and changes both projects underwent in their development. And there is one big one, that made all players say “yes, dammit, finally!”. And that is scaling.
Years ago, Diablo 3 got rid of all playthroughs because players were sick of having to play through the campaign 4 times in a row. With the addon they also added an “adventure mode”, which basically is a mode without story with full access to all areas and reasons to go revisit certain areas.
PoE dropped one difficulty recently and is now dropping all of them in 3 months of this original posts posting-time. Even a game like Borderlands, which is basically a shooter diablo-esque, did it somewhat in the first game. Dropped it totally in the second for 3 full playthroughs. And went a step back again in the Presequel where it removed one playthrough.
Other games like Victor Vran gave a meaningfull hard mode with difficult challenges but equally fitting good rewards. Van Helsing added a somewhat usefull adventure mode - basically a mode where you just play maps without story to enjoy the gameplay and further your characters development.
So what can Grim Dawn learn from this?
Obviously Grim Dawn is in similar shoes as Diablo 3: The developer only profits when i come/buy the game. Financially speaking they don’t care about us staying or leaving. But that doesn’t mean you can make a product that can be a long time stable source of income with a dedicated player group.
So here is my, and much more importantly the genres’ popular solution:
Add scaling and please don’t be too late. Because all the people i know stopped after one playthrough of Grim Dawn. There is just not enough meat and reason to go through the whole content again. The “daily quests” type of the bounty boards is already a good idea, but it needs refining.
In Titan Quest i cared about the areas and the monsters inside. To the knowledgable: yes, i am talking about the monster infrequents. Now imagine a fully fleshed out bounties-system in an adventure mode with a scaling world to my player level where i select bounties from all around the map. In a single place with all the necessary npcs. A map overlay which shows me which areas contain which monster infrequents. Usage of the night and day system to influence monster abilites (think day = normal mode, night = hard mode). Special or unique spawns per area that can only be encountered at certain times of day.
This game has the potential to be really good. All the groundwork is there. It only need to be fleshed out. I can think of a lot more stuff.
All this could not only add more incentive to level a character further than lvl 50. It can also always be further enhanced with new content. Slap a low DLC price on it, or pack it with a big expansion and i am sure lots of people will jump aboard. Especially if you give people some kind of online-only mode to actually attract a staying competitive player base.
Let me finish this with one last thing:
This needs to happen soon, or people will move on - because a lot already have:
Comparison to Path of Exile: http://steamcharts.com/cmp/219990,238960
As you clearly see, Grim Dawn has lost players since release. Got a few coming back for the crucible and now people forget. Why? Because they played through it once, got bored, and went somewhere else.
In PoE they come back everytime there is new content. And they always leave new money. So please, dear Crate, give us reason a stay and more importantly: to come back.