Dear Funcom, it’s time to admit that The Secret World’s combat addons are duds

aegis

As a majority of my time in The Secret World these days is with my second character and leveling her up through Egypt, I’m both having a great time rediscovering the lower- and mid-level game and somewhat dreading the upcoming transition into Tokyo.

Why dread? Because I have zero desire to jump through the hoops of the augment and AEGIS system again. Oh yes, we’re going to be talking about this again.

While TSW’s classless system takes some getting used to, it’s actually pretty cool once you grasp how synergies work and have the flexibility to make builds that can handle different situations. In fact, some missions actually require you to rethink your build to overcome a combat obstacle, which certainly isn’t something we see in most MMOs. And I’m pretty cool with how it works. I even like signets and glyphs, since they’re pretty straight-forward ways to customize gear without requiring a spreadsheet or excessive grind.

But you see, Funcom’s had this weird habit of constantly trying to “improve” the combat system since the game’s launch, and almost always it’s made it worse for it.

First up was the auxiliary weapon system. Neat idea — some extra, super-powered weapons that could be used situationally — and while I don’t have a major problem with them, I always did find it disappointing that you could only equip one active and passive skill at a time. I’d rather play a chainsaw-fighting character full-time, thanks. In practice, this was an AP dump and, after five of them and Issue 7, Funcom’s stopped adding new ones.

Then came Venice and the (argh) scenarios, an idea that was better in theory (highly repeatable content in a game that needed such) than in execution. Scenarios — which Funcom hasn’t added to since their initial debut, btw, suggesting that this is another system that the team has introduced and then abandoned — weren’t that fun, especially in all of the ways that you could fail (and thus waste your time). But they were tied to the augment system, which was a way to slightly boost various skills, and so people pursued that for a while.

Do people still mess with augments? Is there a fear that if you don’t get them, the higher level game is tuned assuming that players have them? I don’t know, but after a half-hearted effort to equip a few (and I found the system incredibly confusing) I gave up on my main character and haven’t looked back.

Then we got to Tokyo and Funcom couldn’t leave combat alone without more “improvements.” Enter the AEGIS system, the perpetual target of my scorn for this zone. Oh, I love Tokyo, it’s a great location, but you run smack-dab into this new system and are forced to deal with it because there is no other option. And the killer part is that it simply does not add anything to the combat experience other than tack on another XP/AP/SP grind so that you’re not gimped in this zone.

I cannot fathom how or why Funcom thought AEGIS would make combat more exciting. There’s no strategy to it, just a lot of annoying fiddling with icons as you try to switch your damage output and protective shields to match whatever type of mob you’re fighting. Start to end, it stinks and it represents a lot of wasted effort by the developers that could and should have been spent elsewhere.

This all annoys me, how TSW keeps trying to add layers, Jenga-style, on top of a functional combat system that’s already challenging and flexible. The game doesn’t need it; it never needed it. Augments and AEGIS and (even) auxiliaries haven’t added a zesty feel to combat or created a deeper progression system.

Why doesn’t Funcom simply create new weapon styles and add them on to the current wheel? Why do these new systems have to be so obtuse and convoluted (and this complaint goes hand-in-hand with how you upgrade high-end gear as well)? All of this feels like the devs were trying so hard not to go down established (and working) paths that they feel like they have to keep needing to invent new systems that are invariably broken, abandoned, or lackluster.

The augment system? Just give us a talent tree and let us dump AP into that for these types of customization tweaks. AEGIS? If you must have it, simplify it into a protective shield that can be activated on extreme need and maybe allow us to level up weapons so that they can innately attack different shield types without having to switch modules around. And if I can’t be a whip- or chainsaw-wielding fighter, then don’t tease me with it.

Just a small rant for a Tuesday. Pay it no mind.

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27 thoughts on “Dear Funcom, it’s time to admit that The Secret World’s combat addons are duds

  1. Athie February 24, 2016 / 10:28 am

    These systems have been a complete barrier to me. I haven’t bought a single issue or subscribed since the augment system was released. I got the impression that a wall of at least hundreds of hours of grind was between me and any future group content; a complete deal-breaker. Instead my TSW time has been spent playing in early and mid game content to avoid the wall. Maybe I’ve completely missed the point and the grind is optional. But MMO players, ya know. There are only two types of MMO upgrades in the community’s mind, I think: upgrades that are unavailable and upgrades that are mandatory. Anyway: just echoing the main post and adding that these systems have cost Funcom at least one player’s money.

  2. Rowan February 24, 2016 / 11:06 am

    As you may well know, AEGIS basically broke the game for me. I loved TSW and was a huge cheerleader. Auxiliaries were cool, though I agree they would have been more interesting as full weapons instead of a single active/passive. Augments were always obviously optional and never seemed worth the grind, at the very least they were lower priority AP expense. But AEGIS, both being mandatory, and yet adding nothing to the game, was the ten-ton dumbbell that broke this camel’s enthusiasm.

    I like SWTOR, but it’s a choose-your-own-adventure with no rel challenge. TSW’s mysteries and story are way more intriguing and challenging, but I couldn’t get past the unpleasant combat in the opening blocks of Tokyo.

  3. Sylow February 24, 2016 / 11:24 am

    I mostly disagree. But as the whole answer will be rather long, here comes the TL/DR:

    Most of what you critizise i consider invalid. Some points are valid, but not financially viable to fix. If you really want them to be fixed, just provide a few million Euros (or US Dollars) to them, and i think they will gladly fix the mentioned issues.

    Now here comes the longer part:

    1. Aux Weapons.

    I have no idea why you tear them down like that. They are a nice addition the way they are. No matter which build you use, you can add one ability plus passive to fill some gap in your setup. It’s a nice way to close gaps in your setup, without forcing you to go a completely different path alltogether.

    You have a healing heavy setup but need a little mobility? Pack the rocket launcher with the rocket jump.
    You function as DPS but need an interrupt at one boss? Get ready to crack your whip.
    You want to deal maximum damage on the boss, but once a while have to dispose of a group of adds? The flamethrower is your friend.

    I could still go on for a while here. I use an addon which just allows me to quickly switch the Aux weapon, along with active and passive ability. I use that a lot, often the only thing I switch between different bosses in a dungeon is the aux weapon, while keeping everything else the same. So really, Aux weapons work and do a very good job. (And, I only discovered that addon during this Christmas vacations, before that I switched manually, which also was no trouble. So even the default user interface apparently is sufficient for the task, the addon is just luxury. )

    Your suggestion of having those weapons as “full size” equipment is contraproductive. People already are overwhelmed by all the abilities of the existing 9 weapons. There’s plenty of players who quit because of this complexity, and several blogs around state that the complexity of the wheel was one of the key reasons, sometimes the one reason, why they left. Hugely increasing the wheel would result in an exponential increase of this problem. That is even before considering how much effort it would be to add and balance a full section for each weapon we have as aux weapon.

    It’s not viable from a business point of view, even before considering that it would massively reinforce one of the biggest problems the game has with acquiring and keeping new players.

    2. Augments.

    I thought FC was very clear about it when they implemented augments: it was something where top-tier players could work on for years. The actual effect of them is minimal. Only the very first augments of damage and healing are actually so useful that maxing them is really worth it for every player. Everything after that is either an exercise of grind, patience and masochism, or done at a leisure pace and then a display of longivety.

    Considering how small any improvements are, compared to how much effort it is to get them, anybody focusing on augments is doing it wrong, and you really don’t loose anything by ignoring them. I very much agree that scenarios can become dull, mindnumbing and nervekilling in no time, but also they are not required in any other way than to keep those people happy who -demanded- to begiven dull and mindnumbing activities to keep themselves busy.

    So really, FC made it absolutely clear to anybody reading just the smallest part of their statement to augments, that they did not implement them for they consider them needed, but for the community actually demanded some endgame grind. Thus they were given exactly that grind, but it was designed to forever be of no actual meaning. The problem is that people by now apparently have forgotten about this. They consider it to be important. I wonder how to help this, apparently the only fix would be to smack people with the cluebat once a week, reminding them that the players themselves compaigned to get this grind for over a year and Funcom very reluctantly gave in.

    And honestly, while i don’t expect much of a memory of many gamers around, i find it a bit disappointing to read this complaint here. I mean, we players asked for it. A significant part of the playerbase spent well over a year crying like little kids, wanting to get their grind-toys. Now we spoiled kids cry that the toys we were given are grindy? That’s like ordering your food extra hot, then complaining that it was spicy.

    3. Aegis.

    Yes, this one is a strange beast, and was even worse so when it launched.

    Indeed the user interface for Aegis was a mess and still is. I very much advise to use an addon for it, the default interface is not good. Funcom should really fix that, instead of relying on external addon coders to provide a good solution. Too many players don’t care for addons and thus have to work with the terribly default interface, which really is contraproductive.

    The next big failure of Aegis was that players were given only three controlers and had to repeat the Tower Defence mission three times to get a full set. This resulted in a terrible start in Tokyo. By now the mission was changed to give a full set once done, which is a massive improvement, but i still think that the game should give the player a complete set when entering Kaidan for the first time. While it’s no issue at all for any veteran, anybody entering Tokyo for the first time and doing anything else but that mission is left in the cold. Very bad design, this needs fixing.

    That being said, i also have to clarify that a lot problems players had and still have with Aegis is self-made. When being new the Aegis system was hell, killing players to the left and right. Part of it of course was that people relied a lot on leeching frenzy for survival, not understanding that this gave them zero healing there. By now most players understand and adjust their setup, but there’s still enough players using “tried and proven” setups, either self-built or taken from a website, which work perfectly fine before Toyko, but gets them killed there. Options to handle this: adjust, cry, quit. It seems like adjusting was impossible for many, though.

    Another aspect was that many people do not understand the power of capacitators early on. Even three months after Aegis was launched, when the first golem-event in Toyko happened, there were plenty of people complaining how they would be supposed to kill a golem with 5% of their normal damage output.

    I rember that so well, since i just like many other players kept putting QL0 and QL1 capacitors on the AH for around 7500 Pax a piece. Anybody, really anybody is able to afford that, and buying four of them pushed your damage from 5% to over 25% of your normal damage, without needing to really upgrade your controlers. So really, even three months after launch, anybody who bothered the least for learning about the Aegis system was able to reach acceptable damage conversion for very low cost. Last time I checked the AH was around Christmas, and I found that the market of QL2 to QL8 indeed is almost dried out, but QL0/1 and QL9 are still sold in masses, and the lower QL ones also at cheap prices. There are still enough altruists around who keep dumping their low QL capacitors on the market for new players who might need them.

    Considering that, anybody not buying them but rather having empty equipment slots should blame himself.I mean, The problem absolutely still exists. Just recently i ran into a player in the newer part of Kaidan. He asked for help to kill some stuff, which i provided. He had shields, but told me that he wouldn’t manage to kill anything. When inspecting him i found that he actually used custom gear (well upgraded) and must’ve already spend a lot of time in Toyo, all his controlers were upgraded to QL3 or 4. Despite all of this,he did not use a single capacitor. By just giving him the capacitors we looted during the tour (so no auction house or anything, just the stuff we got while playing together) and making him equip them, he saw a massive increase of his firepower.

    So where is the problem? In the mechanic, or between keyboard and chair?

    I mean yes, the game could go a long way to inform players better. But considering the whole “new loot”, “empty slot” and “new loot goes in empty slot” is not a really new concept to computer games and MMOs. I really am astonished that apparently it’s still necessary to explain this to players with all-purple equipment.

    After all of this being said, i’d also like to remind -why- Aegis was implemented the way it was. While the Aux-System kept the grinders busy, people still were all about “we won’t buy an expansion unless there is progression”. After all, that’s how all other MMOs seem to work, people only buy the expansion if they get more perceived power out of them. (Disregarding that all the new content is balanced around the higher power, so the only effect is that older content is devalued. )

    Afraid that their expansion would not sell when being delivered without any form of progression, Funcom decided that Kaidan needed some progression and added it. But ass some people might know, Funcom doesn’t have the ressources and manpower of Blizzard. Devaluing their existing content, thus limiting the game to only the new content they can create within a limited time, would effectively shrink their game and make it less attractive. This can’t be in their interest.

    The only solution for that was to implement a system which gave new “power” and “progression” within the new area, while not affecting the old content at all. Voilá, this is exactly what Aegis provides. [Uh, btw… can somebody pleeeease explain the Infusion slot of GW2 to me? *grin* ]

    So all in all, the Aegis system met all the criteria it was built for. Improvements could be made in informing and educating the player about how it works. Just like the equipment system and the skill wheel allows every player to both optimize his characters performance but also to severely gimp himself, the same is true for Aegis: if you don’t acquire and use information, things will go badly for you.

    The reworked tutorial has shown that some more player Kindergarden and handholding apparently is good for the normal player, he’s not as intelligent as the game considered him to be for a long time. So very likely Tokyo again needs a Kindergarden visit.

    The other improvement the Aegis system urgently needs is the user interface. Mind you, i do not advocate the autoswitch function of the AegisHud addon. With that option on, Aegis for most of the time is virtually nonexistant for you, just to mess you up at the worst moment. I never use the autoswitch, i rather have control. For me the difference is the menu. The default UI just shows what you have active, and you have to use the “next” and “previous” buttons to switch. That’s cumbersome. The addon gives you nice bars with all types of Aegis
    displayed, so you can easily switch with one click. (Leftclick for one weapon, rightclick for both. )

    This small convenience update makes all of the difference between Aegis being a nuisance and being a useable extension of the game. This should really get added to the default interface, so every player (not only those caring enough to install an addon) has access to the convenient way of switching your aegis controlers.

    But this is really what it boils down to: Aux weapons are perfectly fine for me. Some better info on the meaning of Augments (endgame grind for those who demand their grind) and some Kindergardening on how to put new equipment into new equipment slots once you get to Tokyo would be helpful, but the essential part would be to finally bring the UI for Aegis to an acceptable level. Once the user interface was upgraded most problems with it would be void.

  4. Winged Nazgul February 24, 2016 / 11:27 am

    Unfortunately, that’s the downside of a horizontal instead of vertical leveling system. Increasing difficulty isn’t as easy as increasing HP and damage like in other MMO’s.

  5. Sylow February 24, 2016 / 11:45 am

    Addendum, as people answered while i was typing the wall of text:

    @Athie:
    As described, Augments were implemented as optional grind for that part of the playerbase which for over a year were campaigning for some grind engame.

    Funcom at every time was very clear that it’s optional, no content will ever be balanced with augments in mind. At least up to now they have kept that promise, you can do every content in game without ever equiping any augmentation.

    The only ones i advise to get are the very first ones in damage and healing, as they boost your attack rating and heal rating. You never need to enter any scenario for that, those green augments drop like candies in the scenarios and people vendor them at NPCs or sell them for cheap at the AH.

    Of course you only get tier 1 augments there, for the higher tiers you have to enter the sunken library to buy upgrade kits for Black Bullions. Which you can earn everywhere, no scenario needed, ever.

    Mind you, even those two augments are absolutely optional, you don’t need them for anything. The only reason why i point them out is, they provide a bigger advantage than a purple signet on a mayor talisman, but can be bought for a few thousand Pax, while the signets cost 40 to 70 million Pax on the AH.

    Thus for just a few thousand Pax and some BBs, those two are a very cost efficient upgrade once you have the skill wheel complete, while all the rest shall be ignored unless you have the need for some pointless grinding.

    @Rowan:
    I still think you should give TSW a shot again. Install the AegisHUD addon, buy four cheap AE capacitors from the AH and make a tour in Kaidan. I believe that these small upgrades could make a lot of a difference for you.

  6. Tyler F.M. Edwards February 24, 2016 / 11:59 am

    I really don’t understand why people are still bothered by augments. Funcom has been very, very clear from the start that augments are only intended to be the thing you work on when you have nothing else to work on. They’re tiny, incremental bonuses for the very top players. I’ve only just started work on them because I maxed out my main and augment wheels, and I’m doing so very slowly and casually. They’re just an AP sink. I have NEVER seen a group require them.

    AEGIS is a little less black and white, but I still think the complaints are a bit exaggerated. It was a bit unpleasant to start, but these days it’s pretty easy to get your AEGIS in a good place. I hardly even notice it anymore, and I’m not even running add-ons.

    That said, I do grant it’s not adding much to the game. The point of AEGIS was to provide continued vertical progression without impacting prior content, effectively adding 10.6 gear without adding 10.6 gear, but then they went ahead and added extra gear levels anyway, so at this point I’m not sure that AEGIS is adding anything of value to the game. I don’t mind it, but I wouldn’t miss it, either.

  7. Sylow February 24, 2016 / 12:10 pm

    “I have NEVER seen a group require them.”

    Oh… I know a video of a group who required them. Those who did the 10 man New York raid with two players claim they could not have done that without augments. But alas, if you are that kind of player, you also don’t mind grinding augments for a few months… 😀

  8. Rowan February 24, 2016 / 12:47 pm

    @Sylow I long ago realized (and we covered it ad nauseum on “Beyond the Veil”) that Augments were a minor side show to keep people happy who had nowhere to spend their AP. Auxiliaries are simply OK as is, but I agree with Syp that they could have more been fun than they are. AEGIS was the big mistake as far as I am concerned, as they increased the complexity of an already complex (by your own admission) ability system. At best, AEGIS increases the length of an already long combat cycle. At worst, it makes the game impossible to play, as the player may not be able to do any damage to a random encountered mob without the proper equipment. I realize that has changed since. Just a couple weeks ago, I dipped tow back in, re-did the Tower Defense and filled out the AEGIS I was missing. But that only leads back to the added unnecessary complexity and length of fight. I want to dip in again and maybe see how things go because the stories are still fascinating. We’ll see.

  9. Sylow February 24, 2016 / 1:17 pm

    The point with Aegis really is, like Tyler described: once you got used to it, it doesn’t affect you any more. I don’t consider it that complex. You can dig into the skillwheel and get lost there for hours. There’s not much complexity in Aegis, enemy has red shields: use red yourself. Only once you rely on stuff which does hurt your enemy, not only hit (mostly leech healing), Aegis affects your build. Outside of that, it’s really just a tacked on progression system, which runs in parallel to other paths of progression.

    On the longer combat cycles, with the upgrades I mentioned, a few AE capacitors for cheap from the AH, things get quite quick again. Considering that the mobs in Tokyo have less health below their shields than in other zones, killing for me by now feels faster in Kaidan than elsewhere.

    I am astonished that Tyler says he’s also perfectly fine with the default UI, as I find that one atrocious, but i guess tastes differ.

    That all being said, i also agree that Aegis doesn’t bring much new to the table. A few of the mechanics in the new dungeons wouldn’t work exactly like that without it, but there could be some other shield mechanic added in those fights, too. Would it never have been implemented, i also would not have missed it, but there were threads (plural!) of over hundred pages, so thousands of postings, of also several hundreds of players, which all stated that they wanted progression and that they would only buy the expansion and continue playing the game, if some kind of progression was included. Under such pressure of all the playerbase Funcom obviously had no other option than to deliver -some- kind of progression. Aegis was not a lovechild, it was a compromise between what players demanded and their goal to avoid excessive power creep and obsolescence of existing content.

    Also, it was not designed years ahead, it was created on a short timeline when Funcom realized that they had no other option than give in to the players blackmailing them. This shows, especially on the quickhack user interface.

    We players, not individually but as the masses, cried both Augments and Aegis into the game. Neither of them was what Funcom wanted to do, it was what we players demanded. So why now blame Funcom and not ourselves?

  10. pkudude99 February 24, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    Aux weapons I enjoy for the reason Sylow says — they’re an extra ability to plug a gap, or perhaps add a slight bonus to a build. They’re very auxiliary to my build 😉

    AEGIS I hated for the 1st couple of days, but after I got 4 capacitors the only time I notice AEGIS anymore is on dual-shielded bosses when I have to swap in-combat. Out of combat, the various mobs all have the same shield in the different sections of the zone, so you make sure you’re red in this area, blue in that one, and purple in the last and then forget about it. I use the AegisHUD Add-on also, which is a big help for the in-combat switching, but tbh, I think I’d be fine on the default UI anymore either. For my personal shield, I’ve never actually noticed needing it for anything, so… whatever on that.

    Augments…. as noted, they’re grindy on-purpose and completely optional. And I fell out of “like” with scenarios in only a couple of days, so I’ve always just ignored them and never felt like I was lacking anything. I would prefer if they were simply an AP/SP sink and I didn’t have to trust in RNGesus to find them, but… eh, whatever.

  11. Rowan February 24, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    “So why now blame Funcom and not ourselves?”
    Perhaps we might blame each other. I certainly won’t blame myself for Augments or AEGIS, though I might blame anyone who needs to feel more powerful through a video game despite the power increase being illusory. I wonder though, how many players they lost because of AEGIS? If they retained more than they would have lost if they hadn’t implemented AEGIS, then I suppose it was worth it.

  12. Sylow February 25, 2016 / 5:45 am

    Small addendum and correction to what i wrote:

    – My numbers for the AE capacitors were wrong. I worked out of memory, and my memory is dusty. Actually the first set of AE capacitors takes you from about 3% for controllers only to a little below 15% for controllers plus a full set of capacitors. (As the power of a controller is a little random, exact results can vary a little bit. ) A full set of QL0/1 capacitors still is a huge boost compared to none at all.

    – The prices in the AH changed painfully. I recently gave two QL0 capacitors to a cabal member, telling her that the stuff is cheap and she can simply have it. Checking the AH yesterday i learned that i could’ve made overa million pax from those two. Not that i’d need it, but those prices now do not aim for new players any more. It seems like the price level by now adjusted to most character wanting QL 0 capacitors are alts of players having sufficient founds.

    Luckily while prices for QL1/2 also increased, they end up at 70k a piece. Considering that i spent several millions of pax for runspeed upgrades well before Tokyo, i think that’s affordable even for a casual player, even he should have those founds available.

    – I yesterday persuaded somebody in cabal to just take his (pvp) alt to Tokyo to do Tower Defence together. So we confirmed that you by now get a full set of controllers there.

    – Out of curiosity i asked around in Cabal for the user interface. Of the 9 people i asked, five were using Aegis HUD. One other and me disabled the auto-switch, as we found that it sometimes messes up things and we prefer to have control. The other three were very happy with it and basically all confirmed that since they use that, they basically don’t notice Aegis any more. (Interestingly enough both who dislike the auto-switch are healers in the dungeons… the numbers are too small to tell if this is a factor or a coicidence, but i consider it worth mentioning. )

    To my astonishment the other four cabal members use the default user interface and say that they got used to it and have no trouble using it. So while i very much dislike the default Aegis UI element, it seems like a lot of people are fine with it.

  13. Tyler F.M. Edwards February 25, 2016 / 11:51 am

    Relevant to the current discussion, here’s one of the patch notes from the most recent update:

    “We have updated the way leeching works in regards to AEGIS. Whenever you attack an enemy with a non-matching AEGIS damage type, you will receive no leeching as before. If you now attack an enemy with a matching AEGIS damage type, you will receive leeching benefits. The amount leeched is based on the damage dealt before any AEGIS calculations are done. In practice, it should be just as if you were hitting an enemy who did not have an AEGIS shield. The purpose of this change is to allow more varied build options when soloing in Kaidan and to make leech healing a viable option in Kaidan dungeon content.”

  14. Tridus February 25, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    “The point with Aegis really is, like Tyler described: once you got used to it, it doesn’t affect you any more.”

    If the best thing that can be said about a mechanic is that after you get used to it, it stops being a problem, then that’s a pretty serious issue.

    What’s it actually *adding* to combat? How is it making the game better? What would be the downside if it was removed?

    I’m not seeing good answers for any of those questions, and that strongly suggests this is a bad mechanic that isn’t helping the game a whole lot by existing.

  15. Sylow February 25, 2016 / 1:49 pm

    “What’s it actually *adding* to combat? How is it making the game better? What would be the downside if it was removed?”

    Adding: For me personally, very little outside of dungeons. There it has some unique quirks, but they could’ve done in different ways, too. But as some people (see below) seem to love it, it must add something for them, which just doesn’t appeal to me.

    Making the game better: Again, ask those who love it. For me, it indeed does not much good and I -personally- would not shed a tear if it was gone, wouldn’t other players seem to like it.

    Downside of removal: All the players who like and also all those who spent a lot of effort to fully upgrade their Aegis will be slapped in the face, resulting in plenty of negative backlash for the game. It’s a very bad move in terms of PR.

    My reasoning that people like it:
    1, It was not implemented because Funcom wanted it, but because many players demanded it.
    2. There were endless postings in the forums demanding new stuff, after Aegis was implemented there were a few complaints on the forum, but not a lot. So those who wanted it and were active in the forums before apparently didn’t feel like complaining about it. They must like it.
    3. I also know some Cabal mates who love farming and improving their gear. Just farming upgrade kits for several evenings was paradise for them, or at least it sounded like that when listening to them on Cabal chat. [And who am I to complain? I love being on tour with these achievers, they have determination and stamina, you’ll get things done with them. I just stand back and let them grind, when they find something extremely grindy to enjoy. ]

    So yes, while I personally also don’t think that this mechanic is of any benefit to the game in terms of any game mechanic, there are indications that a part of the playerbase likes and embraces it, so removing it would work against that.

    And a tiny sidenote on why nobody like that comments here: those people are all focused on the game, no matter which game they play. They visit the games forum and play the game, but don’t care for any random blog, where other games are also discussed.

    @Tyler: Thanks for the info, I knew that such a change was under discussion, but somehow missed that it was implemented by now. I might give it a testrun in the next time.

    The problem I still see is that as a healer I match my controlers to the two most important shields. One for the tanks shield, one for a person who has special functions, like intercepting and absorbing bombs. [Two weapons, two controllers, although usually just healing the tanks shield is enough. ] Using the proper controllers, I can also fill up their shields. (Some effects are insta-death when shields are down. ) If I have to match my controllers now to my offensive targets Aegis, I won’t be healing the shields any more.

    So I think the fix makes leech-based setups in the open world more viable, but probably is of limited help in dungeons. But I might still give it a try. 🙂

  16. krystallos February 26, 2016 / 7:03 am

    As a recently returned to the game grand master owner all I can see is that the Aegis system in particular is a huge impediment to bringing new people to the game. I tried to get some friends back into playing and after they got to Tokyo they were done. How many new people stick with it once they have to deal with Aegis? I suppose if Funcom is happy with the people they have then there is no problem.

  17. Sylow February 26, 2016 / 7:43 am

    I just was writing an answer for Rowan on his blog. It was not posted yet, my OpenID provider lately closed gates, I still have to figure out what i’ll use for authentication there in the future, but I realized that Aegis actually had one positive effect on the game.

    Before Aegis was implemented, the games deck building was stalled. People were petrified, locking themselves in to a handfull of “best” setups, according to the metagame. Aegis very much killed that “set in stone” metagame, when it came out, a huge diversity of setups and synergies was tried. Of course, they all went through a kind of “natural selection”, many of them did not survive the test of time, but while people by now again flock to “best” designs, there still is a number of different deck building philosophies and ways of building decks out there, which are all considered to be viable. It’s not like some things which previously were not viable were upgraded with Aegis, but before Aegis the metagame was all about leeching frenzy, where you wanted maximum damage for maximum survivability, outshining every other setup concept by far. With Aegis, this one “miles ahead of everything else” mechanic suddenly was broken, allowing all the other actually viable concepts to claim their spot.

    @Krystallos:

    I know what you mean. The Aegis system is a problem when new to Tokyo. I already wrote a lot about that, I don’t need to repeat it. But as people here also already confirmed it, once you got used to it, it’s really no problem any more. In the much rougher way it was when it was new, it took us about a week of adjusting.

    In my Cabal, whenever somebody tells that he made it to Kaidan the first time (happened again last week), one or two of us take an hour of time to show some stuff, explain some things and help doing the Tower Defense mission for the first time. People generally after that still ask for support at one or another hard fight, which is perfectly fine. (That’s why we play a MMO after all, so we can play together. ) Outside of that, people who got even the simple introduction run to Kaidan don’t really have big issues.

    So I conclude, the problem is not in the system itself, but on how it is introduced. My advise for Funcom thus would be:

    – Forget the stuff with Tower Defense. Give everybody a full set of controllers right away.
    – Perhaps even add a few QL0 capacitors for good measure.
    – Add in some tutorial before sending people out in the wild. The factions could have some insight already about Tokyo, so members have to visit the training area again to shoot a few targets with Aegis shields, before being sent there.
    – Upgrade the UI. While more people than I thought are happy with it, they certainly also would not complain if they would have the superior functionality (all controlers listed in a row, you can switch by clicking, instead of a “forward/back” functinality) of an addon at their hands without needing to trouble themselves with installing and updating addons.

  18. Rowan February 26, 2016 / 10:40 am

    Sorry about the login thing. There’s a list of viable logins in the left-hand column on my blog. including Google and WordPress.

    It’s always good to shake up the cookie-cutter brigade, though I suspect the same sort of people of who would quit a game over lack of power increases are the ones trying to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of their builds. So they deserve every shake-up they get. 🙂

    “Add in some tutorial before sending people out in the wild. The factions could have some insight already about Tokyo, so members have to visit the training area again to shoot a few targets with Aegis shields, before being sent there.”

    This tutorial could have been handled via the Scenario system in Venice, and I believe that was the plan, since its stated purpose was to prepare folks for the “assault” on Tokyo. But then it was abandoned, and we were stuck with only the originals.

  19. Sylow February 26, 2016 / 11:00 am

    “This tutorial could have been handled via the Scenario system in Venice, and I believe that was the plan, since its stated purpose was to prepare folks for the “assault” on Tokyo. But then it was abandoned, and we were stuck with only the originals.”

    Maybe. Then scenarios would’ve been dual purpose, give those who wanted endless grind exactly that, and educating people on how to handle Aegis. But I think that would’ve been contraproductive. The reactions to scenarios are already very binary, there’s a few people who love spending hours there. (We have a cabal member who is at 100% at the augments wheel! )But there’s masses of others there, who really hate them. Now imagine, if the people who already hate scenarios, would have to learn the new mechanic in there. Not a good idea.

    Also note, there were several (8?) months in between the Sunken Library was implemented and when Tokyo was released. Most of the “cry for progression” in Tokyo happened during that time, I believe that when Venice was released nobody at Funcom ever thought about anything like the Aegis system. I think they first planed to just make mobs with more “nightmare buffs”, like we already know from previous zones. Everything in the scenarios pointed that way, and nobody had the time and ressources to completely revamp the scenarios to teach Aegis.

    Also imagine the backlash, people were waiting for Tokyo for eight months, and then they’d get the artificial delay of “now you learn about Aegis in the scenarios” as stepping stone before going there. If I was the developer, I would’ve been scared of that backlash.

    That being said, your position still holds weight for present time. It would be a nice upgrade if people would get all Aegis controllers when reaching Venice (instead of what I said, when reaching Tokyo), have to do a first “all about Aegis” training scenario and the bosses (and only the bosses) in scenarios would use Aegis.

    If that would be combined with the long-promised and never-delivered additional scenarios, I think the community would accept that with open arms and without any negativities.

  20. Rowan February 26, 2016 / 11:32 am

    The Scenarios’ biggest problem is that they are the same scenario, just in three different locations (and a few different difficulty levels). I may be misremembering, but I feel like we were aware of AEGIS pretty early on. I sincerely feel that if they’d built more true variation in the scenarios (difficult end-goals, mechanics, etc.) and/or introduced new ones at a reasonable pace, Scenarios would not so hated by much of the playerbase. On the other hand, just like AEGIS, scenarios seem to be an idea that Funcom introduced with a disjointed jump in difficulty aimed at the top-end players for which further development was abandoned because of the backlash. Not that Funcom is alone in this. Though I am sure each represents hundreds of worker-hours, all game companies seem to half-ass ideas into a game that they later abandon, but leave the mechanic in because it would be too hard to take it out.

  21. Sylow February 26, 2016 / 11:55 am

    “I may be misremembering, but I feel like we were aware of AEGIS pretty early on.”

    Then either of us might be wrong. I thought that Aegis was only known shortly before Tokyo was opened, but I might also simply have missed that.

    On more variety on scenarios, yes, that could help a lot and you are perfectly right that scenarios when released were aimed at the top-end players who wanted more grind. Why no more effort was invested, I would say, the grinders were happy, the rest didn’t like scenarios so much anyway. At the same time Tokyo still required a lot of work to be able to be released. The eight months gap between the issues was also a eight months gap of income, so not only the players, but even more Funcom had real interest in getting Tokyo done and gave it priority.

    Considering the success Tokyo was (despite the problem with Aegis) and considering how great storywriting it again displays, at least I don’t blame them for pushing scenarios aside in favour of finishing Tokyo, despite I wouldn’t mind some more scenario variety.

    Also, the idea of removing existing systems, that’s always a risky route. Not only do you eliminate something where a lot of developer time went into, there is always the part of the playerbase which enjoys it, and you definitely don’t want to have your version of NGE in your game. (Those who wanted the grind were campaigning in the forums for many months. Now you take the toy away again, what will happen? I don’t think the forums would be able to contain that, but the bile would splash to the left and right, on all available channels… )

    If you remove a mechanic, no matter how strange it might be, you always have to provide the players with something new and better. And up to now, I never got more than “remove Augments, rip out Aegis”, I’d yet have to see a suggestion which would fulfill all of these criterias:

    – has to be accessible for new players.
    – has to be interesting for long term players.
    – has to allow perceived progression. (Not necessarily actual progression, but the player has to feel like he is making progress. )
    – has to allow that progression in a way that old content is not trivialized
    – has to be fun
    – has to allow for an eternity of grinding

    Depending on the difference, that many players hate grinding, but some love and dwell in it, Aegis as well as Augments manage to check four or five of these criterias, which is more than any idea i had could fulfill.

    So as long as I don’t have the striking idea on how the existing systems could be replaced with something much better, I find that I don’t have the right to call for their removal.

  22. seanas February 26, 2016 / 3:09 pm

    I really want to agree with Sylow (and pkdude), as I’m a regular TSW player who spends most of their time in Tokyo.

    However, the simple fact is that anyone in their right mind, when they reach AEGIS areas, do two things: one, as Sylow said, they buy cheap QL0 or QL1 capacitors on the Auction House. Two, they install one of the (many!) AEGIS auto-swap mods. So, anyone in their right mind immediately negates two of the main gameplay changes of AEGIS – and the third, the time to swap controllers, is increasingly negated as you dump SP into the appropriate skills.

    So, a gameplay mechanic where anyone in their right mind immediately bypasses two of the main consequences of that mechanic? There’s simply no way, under those circumstances, that you can regard AEGIS as a success. If everyone who knows how skips the mechanic, then the mechanic simply isn’t any good.

    As a committed TSW player, I might wish it wasn’t so – but the you can’t deny the cause (and effect) of player choices: they’re voting with their habits and mods, and the vote is ‘AEGIS isn’t any good’.

  23. Athie February 28, 2016 / 11:47 pm

    Ok, so, on the basis of this thread I finally went to Tokyo and got started. With the relevant add on installed, AEGIS might as well not exist as long as I target a mob before hitting it. So from the first moment forward this is a mechanic that has zero gameplay to it. Pure grind wall between me and current group play. Hooray!

    As for what could be done? MMOs almost always dramatically devalue the past grinding of cutting-edge players. It’s the only way they survive… So Funcom could fix this easily: build auto matching into the game, multiply the experience gain for AEGIS by say 50, Shazam the system is fixed/removed without taking anything away from anyone.

  24. Azazel Zel July 9, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    Just been try to play TSW again, must say the Aegis system has totally killed my passion for this once great, game, wouldn’t be so bad if the Aegis system wasn’t usch a DULL boring grind…

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