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Thoughts on some sort of scaling difficulty progression system for end game (Other than endurance runs)?


ThreeOSix
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Posted this up on the Reddit, but i'm curious what the forums crowd has to say.

So one thing that's always bothered me about Warframe is the lack of challenging content and sense of meaningful progression. Why are we forma'ing these builds on our frames and weapons if we aren't going to truly put them to the test. The only true scaling difficulty comes from sitting in an endurance mission for hours to get high level enemies.

 

In contrast when you look at other games for inspiration, there are some really good ideas for systems that drive a player in their progression.

  1. Look at Path of Exile for example (even tho a totally different style of game, draws a lot of similarities with WF), you have the main story, Acts 1-10, then upon completing the story you are introduced to "Maps". Maps are tiered levels with increasing difficulty. Quick, easy, challenging. You go in and clear that particular map and then you work your way up the ladder. Ultimately getting to big end game boss fights, that are truly challenging (think of it as a solo raid boss).
  2. Another game with similar but much less advanced system is Diablo 3 with its Greater Rifts system. Again tiered difficulty levels, but different in they are timed. So obviously as the mobs get harder, it takes longer to kill them and then the time becomes more of a factor. It's a challenge to climb the ladder and pushes the player to perform at peak. This system is heavily tied to their Seasons and the performance of players are shown on display with a season leaderboard.
  3. Another game, Guild Wars 2, with its fractal system. Fractals are basically just mini dungeons but they are tiered (4 tiers total with 25 mini dungeons per tier) and they get more difficult as you climb up the ladder. Each tier adds modifiers to each fractal sort of like the sortie modifiers. So tier 1 has none, tier 2 has 1 modifier, tier 3 has 2, and tier 4 has 3. On top of that mobs get harder in each one, AND there is an agony system. The agony system adds damage over time unless you have agony resist (which you get from doing more fractals, it's ultimately a progression system within the progression of fractals).

 

So what does all this have to do with Warframe? Warframe doesn't have a scaling difficulty progression system outside of endurance runs. In order to get that kind of scaling difficulty you have to sit for hours in an endless mission. Sorties to me don't fit in this category since they don't scale higher and they are just once a day. Eidolons don't really fall into this category for me either due to the same thing with not scaling higher and higher.  Elite alerts was a step in the right direction but it suffers from the same issue being endless missions so you again have to sit in them for hours to get that scaling content.

I would love to see some sort of system where you have a big list of missions (either it be a set number or an endless list) and your task is to progress up the list. Each mission would get harder and harder, maybe have multipliers, or timers to finish, etc. Maybe have milestone boss fights every 5-10 missions, etc. All of this could use existing content, since it's just tweaking the difficulty numbers. Boss fights could be existing planet boss fights but obviously scaled up.

DE could really do anything with a system like this. Example: Turn the system into some sort of meta game. Intro mission to the whole system, you find some lost solar system map. When you lay that map on top of the current star map, nodes from all over the planets form a new web of connections. There is a new threat in the solar system that is threatening a take over. You then have to do missions on the map to fight off the threat sort of strategy game like. Each mission completed neutralizes a node for a short time and increases the mission level for the next mission. Etc. Just spitballing here but you get the idea (this idea is basically a rip off of Path of Exile's Atlas of Worlds but the idea of a web and strategy is seen in lots of games).

So what about rewards. For this I don't know what it would be honestly. When looking at those other games listed above the rewards aren't crazy amazing. For Warframe they could do anything, materials, cosmetics, mods, relic packs, etc.

 

tl:dr - Scaling difficulty system for players that want challenging content after finishing the easy stuff.

Anyways, what do y'all think? Any interest? or am I dumb lol?

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43 minutes ago, ThreeOSix said:

All of this could use existing content, since it's just tweaking the difficulty numbers.

Things would still be pitifully easy. Any change to the current game involving numbers can be trivialized by taking one of a few frames and not being absolute garbage with them. Namely Loki, Ivara or Trinity. Creating challenge in the game requires more mechanically difficult enemies, not more numerically difficult ones, since DE has powered up player options to the point where in many cases, numbers don't matter. Sortie missions tried to create challenge by limiting what we could use in those missions. This worked somewhat, but in order to make Warframe a skill-testing game our enemies more regularly need to be closer to our level of ability. They need to move faster, have smarter AI and have more tools to creative mess with what we're trying to do.

43 minutes ago, ThreeOSix said:

So one thing that's always bothered me about Warframe is the lack of challenging content and sense of meaningful progression.

I disagree. I say Warframe has tons of meaningful progression. I picked up this game three years ago and every discovery of new items was exciting, getting 15k credits in a mission was kind of a big deal and dammit I was lucky if I snagged an Alert for extra early-game Plastids. Here I am sitting at the product of 3 years of casualish but frequent gameplay, I don't have everything but I can confidently slap together experimental builds and roll missions and have fun. And all along that road I remember tons of moments where I picked up a lucrative Mod, found the perfect weapon or build for a Loadout or managed to craft a Prime whatever, and these moments really changed how I interacted with the game. Warframe has bucketloads of meaningful progression.

The problem is that there is no progression of obstacles that approaches the level of power we can achieve. Once we hit a certain point (I hit it back around MR15), the game doesn't throw any more fastballs at you. Currently, no mission difficulty phases many of the long-time players with filled-out arsenals. Progression of character has outstripped progression of matching conflict, and that's why older players are feeling there's no meaningful progression. It's because if longtime players are gaining anything, there's nothing to measure those gains against to show they've progressed. For example, finally maxing an Arcane Guardian for an extra 600 Armor isn't going to feel important if the strongest enemies you come across barely put a scratch in your current 1200 armor as it is.

 

36 minutes ago, (XB1)Thy Divinity said:

I'm all for that with the caveat that the rewards should be scaled appropriately as well.

I see this in every thread like this so I always have to ask. Would you opt to play missions at a higher level even if the reward didn't scale up?

Edited by SenorClipClop
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13 minutes ago, SenorClipClop said:

I see this in every thread like this so I always have to ask. Would you opt to play missions at a higher level even if the reward didn't scale up?

Would I?  Yes, but that's mostly due to my willingness to play for the challenge.  However, it would Imo create more incentive towards others if the ends justified the means.  

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19 minutes ago, SenorClipClop said:

Things would still be pitifully easy. Any change to the current game involving numbers can be trivialized by taking one of a few frames and not being absolute garbage with them. Namely Loki, Ivara or Trinity. Creating challenge in the game requires more mechanically difficult enemies, not more numerically difficult ones, since DE has powered up player options to the point where in many cases, numbers don't matter. Sortie missions tried to create challenge by limiting what we could use in those missions. This worked somewhat, but in order to make Warframe a skill-testing game our enemies more regularly need to be closer to our level of ability. They need to move faster, have smarter AI and have more tools to creative mess with what we're trying to do.

I disagree. I say Warframe has tons of meaningful progression. I picked up this game three years ago and every discovery of new items was exciting, getting 15k credits in a mission was kind of a big deal and dammit I was lucky if I snagged an Alert for extra early-game Plastids. Here I am sitting at the product of 3 years of casualish but frequent gameplay, I don't have everything but I can confidently slap together experimental builds and roll missions and have fun. And all along that road I remember tons of moments where I picked up a lucrative Mod, found the perfect weapon or build for a Loadout or managed to craft a Prime whatever, and these moments really changed how I interacted with the game. Warframe has bucketloads of meaningful progression.

The problem is that there is no progression of obstacles that approaches the level of power we can achieve. Once we hit a certain point (I hit it back around MR15), the game doesn't throw any more fastballs at you. Currently, no mission difficulty phases many of the long-time players with filled-out arsenals. Progression of character has outstripped progression of matching conflict, and that's why older players are feeling there's no meaningful progression. It's because if longtime players are gaining anything, there's nothing to measure those gains against to show they've progressed. For example, finally maxing an Arcane Guardian for an extra 600 Armor isn't going to feel important if the strongest enemies you come across barely put a scratch in your current 1200 armor as it is.

 

I see this in every thread like this so I always have to ask. Would you opt to play missions at a higher level even if the reward didn't scale up?

Hmm, I agree that they would need some mechanical changes, but not sure if I agree on the needing faster and smarter ai.  Path of Exile basic mobs achieve challenge in their same rotation by just having harder hitting attacks and slight modifiers on them.  In Warframe it could be increased damage, and special attacks that negate stuff (think of how the stalker has that attack that disables warframe abilities).

On the second part, when I was referencing progression, I meant endgame progression.  The examples of the credits and mods and prime stuff I would consider mid game progression.  Your second paragraph highlights the exact reason i'm suggesting a scaling difficulty end game system.  Once you hit that point of power there is nothing of challenge to test that power or push further.

 

7 minutes ago, (XB1)motionROTATION said:

I wish, when the star chart was cleared, we could do it all again but have the minimum level for enemies start at lv50 and work it’s way up. I don’t even need better rewards.

This is exactly the kinda thing i'm talking about.  A system to test the players ability beyond.  This idea could actually be pretty cool.  Have a short story mission that explains everything, maybe some old orokin tech was found and you can use that item to see an alternate dimension of the solar system.  All the missions and maps are the same but obviously the higher difficulty.  From a design stand point they could go in and tweak the colors to make it look "alternate dimensionally".  It could be really freakin cool if done right (and I know DE could do it right)

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Yes absolutely, this is exactly what I think Warframe could easily implement as a challenging endgame solution without the need to create a lot of assets and revamp the entire combat. Been saying this for a while now. 

When ESO came out some of us thought it'd be similar to Greater Rifts of Diablo as you described them, keep going as far as you can with scaling enemies and difficulty but in a more dynamic and fast paced setting than the boring 4-hour long endurance runs. But alas, DE seems to have this unspoken policy or unwillingness to never put high level enemies in front of their players. They put a level cap on enemies there, and if that wasn't enough, you don't even get to see that level cap, ever, because efficiency will invariably 100% guaranteed kick you out first. 

Same with Arbitrations, they could have made faster scaling there, heck they could have left scaling untouched, but instead they chose to lower the level scaling to the point you're better off just playing regular endless missions if you want to see high level enemies. 

High alert in Fortuna, could have been a bone thrown at us, but no, same deal. Enemies scale if you leave the beacons up, but they put a cap at around lvl 125. Better than PoE sure, but still, DE seems to have this fear and unwillingness to let their players see high level enemies. I just want access to that content in some form that doesn't require 3-4 hours in an endless mission first. 

 

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2 hours ago, (XB1)motionROTATION said:

I wish, when the star chart was cleared, we could do it all again but have the minimum level for enemies start at lv50 and work it’s way up. I don’t even need better rewards.

You've now split the player-base in two, with low levels never seeing high levels and vice versa.

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18 minutes ago, peterc3 said:

You've now split the player-base in two, with low levels never seeing high levels and vice versa.

Ehh. Alerts, PoE, Fortuna, Sorties could all still be on the regular chart. How many low players see high anyway? Once a non-endless node is cleared how often does it get replayed to begin with? There’s still squad chat etc. it’d be fine

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3 minutes ago, (XB1)motionROTATION said:

Once a non-endless node is cleared how often does it get replayed to begin with?

Low-level Void is the fastest for getting Argon. I would imagine Cap and Exterminate have tons of mixed level players.

4 minutes ago, (XB1)motionROTATION said:

Ehh. Alerts, PoE, Fortuna, Sorties could all still be on the regular chart. How many low players see high anyway?

Is this idea worth lessening the ability for newer players to see neat weapons/frames/cosmetics on more experienced players?

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3 minutes ago, peterc3 said:

Low-level Void is the fastest for getting Argon. I would imagine Cap and Exterminate have tons of mixed level players.

A system like this would obviously have to be balanced.  Your example of the Argon crystal is a prime example of how that balance would work.  The scaling endgame version of the maps would have to have new materials built into it's progression.  Recipes of rewards would have to include base map materials and such to keep players going back.  Like motion said, Alerts, open world maps, sorties, invasions, all that could stay on the normal map.  

Using the splitting the player base example, we technically already have that.  Me personally, when I logon, I only ever do alerts, invasions, then derp around in open world...that's about it.  I never do regular base missions unless it's mindless leveling in Hydron.

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2 minutes ago, peterc3 said:

Low-level Void is the fastest for getting Argon. I would imagine Cap and Exterminate have tons of mixed level players.

Is this idea worth lessening the ability for newer players to see neat weapons/frames/cosmetics on more experienced players?

The only time any new player sees my cosmetics or my guild mates are in sorties or alerts. While my guild is not every vet by any means, I think you’re overestimating how much interaction there is at the current time to begin with. The only issue o foresee is people having a harder time leeching on Defense nodes. But if people are relic farming they’ll still choose lower leveled nodes because faster clears mean more relics. A harder star chart just gives flexibility to players that already que up with friends and avoid randoms anyway 

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2 hours ago, ThreeOSix said:

Path of Exile basic mobs achieve challenge in their same rotation by just having harder hitting attacks and slight modifiers on them.

Last time I checked Path of Exile didn't have equivalent of Trin/loki/ivara/any other broken wf combo.

And people are already capable of cheesing throught mobs that oneshot you by mere farting in your overal direction so I am unsure how more "numerical challenge" you want to achieve above that.

 

2 hours ago, ThreeOSix said:

In Warframe it could be increased damage, and special attacks that negate stuff (think of how the stalker has that attack that disables warframe abilities).

lvl 100+scaling for damage, nullifiers, and those modular corpus mobs name of which I keep forgetting. so at least that's already in game even if big chunk of it is implemented as lazily as possibly can.....

well so considering that I'd guess by literal meaning of what you want in here - indeed all tools are already in the game. (Altho I am not convinced it'd work really)

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One variable that is missing in this discussion is basically: why would DE be motivated to invest on a system like this.

I don't know how the player base is split nowadays, but based on how DE has been doing things, it's probably safe to say that new/mid tier players are more important to DE than vets. This could be because they are the majority ( if I had to guess, id' say >70% of the player base is low/mid tier with a high churn rate ), or because new/mid tier players spend money whereas vets not so much. Maybe a combination of both.

This is to say, it's easy for us to keep asking for "end game" content, but we need to consider that we also want DE to remain healthy and keep investing on the game, and for that, they need to look at dollars .. totally understandable I think, they are a pro profit company like any other.

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Two words: Burn Acetic.

Those who do it will get arbitration style game play in every mission and double rewards. You can only matchmake with others who have the mode on, it would be expensive resource wise to turn off/ turn off (5 mil credits I suggest) so there is no exploiting. It would separate the community in two but it will be worth it.

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56 minutes ago, (PS4)xtharbadx said:

One variable that is missing in this discussion is basically: why would DE be motivated to invest on a system like this.

I don't know how the player base is split nowadays, but based on how DE has been doing things, it's probably safe to say that new/mid tier players are more important to DE than vets. This could be because they are the majority ( if I had to guess, id' say >70% of the player base is low/mid tier with a high churn rate ), or because new/mid tier players spend money whereas vets not so much. Maybe a combination of both.

This is to say, it's easy for us to keep asking for "end game" content, but we need to consider that we also want DE to remain healthy and keep investing on the game, and for that, they need to look at dollars .. totally understandable I think, they are a pro profit company like any other.

You make a very valid point on the why would DE do this kind of thing.  My response would be, have systems for all tiers of gameplay in order to try to drive players into playing longer.  Even if a vet player isn't dropping money on plat as frequently as a new player, them being in the game longer helps the game.  High numbers in steam charts, high numbers on twitch, etc. all of that goes back to exposure and that helps bring in new players.  If a vet is challenged and constantly playing WF, most likely they are talking to their friends about WF.  Once they hit that end (which is where i'm currently at) when you've done the stuff and gotten the powerful weapons and everything is a breeze, playtime drops off.  It also gives new players something to work towards.  The amount of times i've seen posts on the reddit of a new player asking what end game is like is more than i can count.  Whats worse is the replies are all "fashion", "there really isn't", "end game is what you make of it"  As a new player hearing that kinda thing kinda sucks (at least for me personally).

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3 hours ago, Erytroxylin said:

Every enemy is now a Hemocyte Eidolon Nox equipped with energy drain, nullified bubble, and 15,000 alloy armor with immunity to radiation damage.

and then the same people who just asked for more difficulty will appear in droves screeching that "it's too OP and needs nerfing" when they can't handle it. this is why DE abandoned the idea of increased difficulty, because they just can't seem to please anybody with it. 

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4 minutes ago, (PS4)robotwars7 said:

and then the same people who just asked for more difficulty will appear in droves screeching that "it's too OP and needs nerfing" when they can't handle it. this is why DE abandoned the idea of increased difficulty, because they just can't seem to please anybody with it. 

They want difficulty it just can't be more damage, more defence, more CC, required dodging, involve better AI include mini-bosses and/or actual bosses or ability counters, because that ruins the power fantasy...

For reference of my viewpoint, I hate 'numerical' difficulty increases since it just makes everything less accessible. I like Fortuna right now, because whilst the damage can still be a bit high on some of the faster attacks for my taste (although I have a taste for squishy frames, so some personal bias may apply here), in general most of the difficulty comes from things to dodge which can be dodged if you're attentive. All of the Raknoid stuff especially feels perfectly fair, since it's all telegraphed enough that if you get hit it's your own fault but you really do get hit. Good mini-bosses, all told. If only they dropped something, or at least had a higher chance at a rare drop like regular bosses do to make them more worth the time to fight. They're Mini-bosses after all yet they only better than a common Crewman because according to the wiki at least, the Crewman do not drop mods. I have suspicions that'll change in the next wave of Fortuna goodness though, so I'm not making a fuss about it.

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1 hour ago, (PS4)robotwars7 said:

and then the same people who just asked for more difficulty will appear in droves screeching that "it's too OP and needs nerfing" when they can't handle it. this is why DE abandoned the idea of increased difficulty, because they just can't seem to please anybody with it. 

Which is exactly the point of OP suggestion. If there is a split in community, just split the difficulties.

On a side note, I never met a single person who asked for higher difficulty who also complains it's too difficult. That's probably just you reading everything in forums while not glancing at their username assuming everyone is of the same person.

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15 hours ago, (PS4)xtharbadx said:

it's probably safe to say that new/mid tier players are more important to DE than vets. This could be because they are the majority ( if I had to guess, id' say >70% of the player base is low/mid tier with a high churn rate ), or because new/mid tier players spend money whereas vets not so much. Maybe a combination of both.

It's definitely safe to say that, not just about DE and Warframe but about basically any studio and basically any continuous-content game (ie a game that updates and evolves over time like Warframe does). If you're a dev and you have to choose between making the game better for newer players and making the game better for long-time players, choosing newer players makes more sense.

This is simply because the longer a player plays your game, the closer they get to putting your game down and walking away. I would argue that it's more valuable to improve your game for players who are about to play your game, than it is to cater to those who have already played your game. This is isn't to say that "veteran players" shouldn't be valued, just that there are going to be more players (and by extension more collective interest) in the group of people who are relatively new to the game.

Edited by SenorClipClop
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