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Risk & Reward In Warframe


notionphil
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TL;DR - Long-winded thoughts ahead on why risk/reward doesn't exist in WF's current state, and some minor fixes for that. Read at own risk.

 

Risk: (n) exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance
Reward: (n) something given in return for service or merit

 

 

"The risk/reward mechanism makes gameplay more exciting ... Adding risks and rewards raises the level of tension and makes success or failure more meaningful." - Fundamentals of Game Design

 

Risk/Reward in Warframe

You know the rush you experience the first time the G3/Stalker spawned, and you thought your skill/loadout was all that stood between awesome loot and certain death? That's the rush of risk/reward play.

 

Unfortunately, 50 Slash Dashes later, you've realized that being rewarded for taking a risk doesn't really happen in Warframe.

 

In Warframe, the only risk in is the chance to fail a mission*, and thus lose your time & potentially accrued rewards. That may be a small risk, but it is enough.

 

Most risks like stalker/G3 aren't 'chosen', they occur randomly. And the risks you can choose, like Nightmare modes and Vault Keys only offer a fixed set of rewards, while aren't appealing once earned earned. The most common source of risk, high level enemies in Endless modes, fail to offer better rewards as they become more risky.

 

In general, WF does not reward you for taking on additional risk - more risky missions aren't more rewarding.The lack of Risk/Reward play in WF is a missed opportunity to "raise the level of tension and make success/failure more meaningful".

 

*

Being bolted by G3 is a very rare, but very powerful risk. However the randomness with which the G3 appears make this less of a choice and more of an abritrary punishment for many players.

 

Running out of Revives is also a risk, tied into failing a mission in many cases

 

Risk Increases with Enemy Level

As missions increase in level, enemy damage and effective health drastically surge, which significantly increases the risk that you will be overwhelmed or quickly killed by enemies. In short, for a given player "level" the higher level mission you play, the more likely it is that you will fail.

This parallels the level growth structure for Endless modes as well. The longer you play, the more likely you will fail and lose your accrued rewards.

Reward Does Not Increase With Enemy Level

However, the rewards given by missions and enemies do not correspond to the ever-increasing risk.

Higher level enemies take longer to kill, which arguably offsets any XP advantage they offer. However, in WF, the more sought-after rewards are frequently drops. Enemies drop tables do not improve as they gain more power and corresponding risk.

A level 10 Butcher has just as much chance to drop a rare mod from his pool (such as Tranquil Cleave) as a level 150 Butcher.  He also drops the same number of mods/resources. While the time and risk of facing the lv 150 Butcher has increased, the reward has stayed the same.

Thus, the Risk/Reward ratio actually gets worse as you face more challenge.

To RNG or Not to RNG?

The biggest adversary of Risk/Reward gameplay is over-reliance on RNG. Warframe uses RNG as it's primary risk factor. Look back at the definition:

Risk: exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance

Warframe relies on RNG to add risk to our actions. Instead of facing death/loss at the hands of a difficult level or enemy, the 'risk' in Warframe is that you spend 60 minutes farming an item that doesn't appear. The "chance of loss" is simply the waste of your time.

However, RNG based risk does not play well with rewards. Why? Because it's random. Taking on "more" risk does not improve your chance or frequency of reward, the two don't "interact to make success or failure meaningful".

If a mod has a 1% drop chance, you are taking the exact same risk every time you kill its holder: 99%. There is no way to increase your risk and be rewarded for it. When you finally get it, you won't feel the rush of a winner who gambled it all. You'll just have finally gotten lucky.

Adding Reward to RNG's Risk

Normally this is the part of the thread where I dive into a detailed proposal. Here, that's not needed because WF has all of the tools to build reward into it's risk. All it needs to do is combine the existing risks in the game with better rewards:

  • 1) recognize there is a lack of risk/reward ratio in WF

     

  • 2) make the already risky Nightmare missions give better generic rewards (skew enemy drop tables and reward more credits)

     

  • 3) make carrying Vault keys offer specific types of rewards (Decaying = +25% credit drops, Hobbled = +25% mod drops etc)
     
  • 4) make Survival rewards/credits scale as risk increases
     
  • 5) make Defense & Interception reward players with a "what's behind door #2 option" if they choose to keep fighting
     
  • 6) make enemy drop tables skew more rare as they gain level

     

     

Edited by notionphil
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Very nice analysis of Risk/Reward.
Not much really to feedback on it because the suggestion is very simply, however I do have a thought.
And I apologize in advance if this sounds a little controversial, but since DE does have a point in which levels go from 'natural game' content to 'endless'. Couldn't we set a maximum level to the reward skew to finally have a definitive point on when final levels end, and infinite levels begin? 
 

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Very nice analysis of Risk/Reward.

Not much really to feedback on it because the suggestion is very simply, however I do have a thought.

And I apologize in advance if this sounds a little controversial, but since DE does have a point in which levels go from 'natural game' content to 'endless'. Couldn't we set a maximum level to the reward skew to finally have a definitive point on when final levels end, and infinite levels begin? 

 

 

 

Yes but, as long as player powercap is above the enemy powercap, that imbalance will always make the average player feel that endless is the actual game.

 

BC the powercap is so absurdly high and uneven from loadout-to-loadout, DE would need to introduce level 100+ (not sure of exactly leve) content to meet that cap.

 

DE would then need to rebalance frames so that the weaker/less-scaling ones were able to play in that content.

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De will completely ignore this.

 

For months we have the same format for Defense, where going on can (and probably will) end up being just a loss of time. You get no extra credits, the drops dont change and the prizes dont get better... and you only get that last prize, meaning playing 5 waves 10 times is better than playing once up to wave 50, other than personal satisfaction (does that currently exist in WF for doing such chores?) 

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De will completely ignore this.

 

For months we have the same format for Defense, where going on can (and probably will) end up being just a loss of time. You get no extra credits, the drops dont change and the prizes dont get better... and you only get that last prize, meaning playing 5 waves 10 times is better than playing once up to wave 50, other than personal satisfaction (does that currently exist in WF for doing such chores?) 

 

 

Where do you come up with all this stuff? Share some of that stuff with me, man. 

 

 

It appears DE is already thinking about Defense changes, which is what prompted me to analyze about the underlying problem (risk/reward lack) and where else it exists. The answer was...everywhere :P

 

Rebecca's comment on Def rewards:

 

It has been brought up time and time again - awareness of the desire for change is half the issue. The other discussion your comment raises is arguing from the viewpoint that Defense is a worthless mission, would this change make it worthwhile from your perspective? 

Edited by notionphil
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It appears DE is already thinking about Defense changes, which is what prompted me to analyze about the underlying problem (risk/reward lack) and where else it exists. The answer was...everywhere :P

 

Rebecca's comment on Def rewards:

 

 

Oh. My. WIN!!

 

THIS IS AWESOME!

 

And so is that thread, by the way. That disbanding thing is annoying to constipation levels. And the fact that you can't select void missions while in a Squad, too. So strange.

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The risk has always existed. Enemies turn into these fat meat shields with unreasonably high damage and high status proc chances.. but the reward, which is controlled by RNG, remains the same under all stages of the game.

Hek, RNG can even "reward" you less than you are worth, giving you the lowest credit cache reward at 30+ minutes in survival for example.

 

DE needs to fix their "reward" aspect of Risk/Reward. Doing something is more tedious than challenging and fun and when you finally get the reward you were searching for, you just get mad cause it took so god damn long time to get it.

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The risk has always existed. Enemies turn into these fat meat shields with unreasonably high damage and high status proc chances.. but the reward, which is controlled by RNG, remains the same under all stages of the game.

Hek, RNG can even "reward" you less than you are worth, giving you the lowest credit cache reward at 30+ minutes in survival for example.

 

DE needs to fix their "reward" aspect of Risk/Reward. Doing something is more tedious than challenging and fun and when you finally get the reward you were searching for, you just get mad cause it took so god damn long time to get it.

RNG can also do the opposite, give you an uber rare mod when you take no risk, such as killing a level 10 butcher with a rank 30, 5 Forma frame. The entire system is designed to discourage challenging yourself.

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RNG can also do the opposite, give you an uber rare mod when you take no risk, such as killing a level 10 butcher with a rank 30, 5 Forma frame. The entire system is designed to discourage challenging yourself.

 

It's true.

 

I do Venus runs on Nightmare because it's far easier than on Ceres, and I get the same mods anyway. Absolutely no motivation to do higher level Nightmare missions. And now I don't even play Nightmare modes anymore.

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True in every way. I once searched for "Warframe survival 60 Minutes" on Youtube. The only ones I find are from the survival event.

Makes sense, who wants to play to 60 Minutes without a proper reward?

 

Higher Level Enemies should = better chance for rare drops.

Higher Waves in Defense should = better chance for rare drops

More Time Survived in Survival should = better drops in general

 

Otherwise it's just not worth taking the extra risk.

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RNG can also do the opposite, give you an uber rare mod when you take no risk, such as killing a level 10 butcher with a rank 30, 5 Forma frame. The entire system is designed to discourage challenging yourself.

 

Well, in this example, most progression-based games would either give you no xp/loot at all from that kill, or downscale you to the level of your enemy (meaning your 5 forma frame/weapon is now just as good as that rank 2 exca/mk1)

 

What would you prefer?

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Well, in this example, most progression-based games would either give you no xp/loot at all from that kill, or downscale you to the level of your enemy (meaning your 5 forma frame/weapon is now just as good as that rank 2 exca/mk1)

 

What would you prefer?

 

If for some odd reason I had to choose between those unnecessarily punitive options, I'd rather have no loot from that kill.

 

However, what most progression games really do IMO is make rewards more lucrative as you scale. Level 100 enemies simply drop more gold/xp and better weapons. So there's little reason to go back to Lv 1 unless you need a specific drop.

 

My actual suggestion was in the OP. Make enemy drop tables improve (less trash, or better trash) as they gain levels.

 

Detailed off the cuff (I don't know actual tables, but you'll get the idea).

 

EX:

lv 1, current tables, but all cores dropped limited to common 3

lv 15 - 50% for ability mods drops to be replaced with common 3 cores. max core common 5.

lv 30 - 100% ability mods replaced with common 5. max core rare 3. lowest core common 5.

lv 45 -  100% ability mods replaced with uncommon 3, lowest core uncommon 3.

lv 60...

Edited by notionphil
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