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Offline pigantibioticsTopic starter

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RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191620#msg1191620
« on: June 03, 2015, 10:46:19 PM »
Gonna put a few disclaimers here:

1) I love this game, though I haven't been playing for very long (though I often play for a few hours dispersed across a day)
2) The game itself is fun
3) I understand that RNG is basically how card games work (I'd like to note that that's only really NECESSARY for drawing cards, not obtaining them)
4) This is not my first experience with collectible card games

With that out of the way, on to my concerns.

To preface, while I found the quests to be quite easy, I can see (and have read) how many players flat out give up after they reach a certain quest (either 150 or 500, I don't really remember).  But to me, this is okay, because this type of grinding, while not very desirable for many players, isn't that big of a deal.  All we have to do is play the game, yeah?  What's the problem?

Well, there is no problem.  Not with that.  I don't take issue with it because grinding in almost every game has guaranteed rewards for your efforts, and this is similar to the score-quest goal.  When you grind in Pokemon or something, you get EXP, yeah?  If you lose, you don't get EXP.  Simple.  It's a very clear and simple system that rewards you if you do well.

The issue is that Elements does not work like this all the time.

Rare cards, afaik and from what people told me on the chat, are only obtainable (efficiently, by yourself after the specific quest for the rare weapon, etc.) from the Arena.  This is fine...if you have the tools to grind them efficiently.  I don't.  No new player does.  But, we have the Bronze Arena, right?  And there's a very efficient and very cheap-to-build Bronze grinding deck already.

The problem with this goes back to my point about what grinding generally entails.  While you are working toward an ultimate goal that is pretty far off (I guess a level up in most games), your incremental rewards from doing well in the game (EXP) make it a guaranteed reward at the end once you work hard enough.  In contrast, the system used in Elements in the form of spinners has the potential to just ignore your hard work and tell you to beg the RNG to be in a good mood.  Can you imagine if you had to grind to a certain level in a game to beat a boss, and then every time you got enough EXP to level up, you were presented with a spinner?  And then the spinner decides whether or not you wasted your time?  You would go insane.  You wouldn't even want to play the game anymore, no matter how fun it gets later.  At least, I wouldn't.  Simply put, if you aren't lucky, then either use up another 15+ minutes of your life or close the game and do something else.  This isn't challenge, this is just the game being obtuse.

I maintain and assert that this system just makes the game inaccessible.  There's no benefit as far as I'm concerned.  The time-sink factor is just unnecessary and it causes a lot of heartache.

Common arguments in the chat were:

1) They're rare cards for a reason!

Okay, sure.  Rare cards are rare cards, and opening packs in real TCGs is part of the game (though I don't really agree with it), so spinners aim to emulate that.  But Elements doesn't have to be obnoxious like booster packs are with its rares.  There are a ton of options here.  One that I thought would be interesting would be if you just made it a guaranteed drop from one of the AIs or something.  You don't have to mess around with nonsense like the game being in a bad mood that day (or, in my case, many days...), and you have a goal to look forward to without any caveats.

2) You could donate.

I don't agree with this on a personal level just because it makes it feel like a mobile game with in-app purchases.  You wanna make a deck with a card that you haven't been able to get because the game hates you today?  That's too bad, but I know a way that you can persuade it!

This doesn't necessarily mean that the game shouldn't give any incentive to donate.  It's a fun game already and it's free with no ads, so that's really cool by itself.  You can give people the cards too.  But the problem is that because of how luck-based obtaining the cards are by yourself, you may feel like donating is your only option (that's how I've felt after the special spinner decided to end on the exact same three slots that it started with for the 4th time in a row).

3) It's just bad luck!

I don't disagree, but this doesn't really make the current system any less flawed.  I don't think that I should be rewarded or told that I've wasted my time based entirely on the RNG.

---

So yeah, just let me know what you think.  I still love how the game plays, it's just a really big barrier and discouraging thing about it, and I'd really like it to be fixed.  Thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 10:48:59 PM by pigantibiotics »

Offline serprex

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191627#msg1191627
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2015, 12:22:24 AM »
Most of Arena profit is selling rares from special spin, & electrum won from wins

Offline RootRanger

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191651#msg1191651
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2015, 07:03:55 AM »
Well this is quite an impressive first post. It's certainly more interesting than most of the stuff you see in the "Introduce Yourself" section. Anyways, onto your points.

First off, winning always gives you electrum, which can be used to buy cards. Against some opponents, the electrum wons outweighs the value of a card won from the spins. As for the RNG involved in determining whether or not you win a card, it's very similar to a system I've seen in many other games. When a boss dies, there is a certain % chance that an item will be dropped. Sometimes no item is dropped at all.

Electrum can also be used to upgrade cards, which will give your deck a much higher speed and win rate. Even if you don't win a rare from the special spin in arena, the electrum you gained from the wins that took you there will help you win rares further down the road.

And ultimately, the individual spins are not going to make a huge difference. You're probably going to eventually want a lot of copies of all of the rares, which means each spin has a fairly small effect in the long run. Consider it an accomplishment whenever you get to a special spin, even if you don't win a card from it.

Personally I think it would be better if a special spin guaranteed a rare, but it's not really that important of an issue. Hope you have a nice time with the forum and game.
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Offline pigantibioticsTopic starter

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191780#msg1191780
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2015, 06:18:29 AM »
Most of Arena profit is selling rares from special spin, & electrum won from wins

I'd take that, but the issue is deeper than that.  While it's true that most of my income comes from selling upgraded cards off spins, the problem is that the electrum cannot be used under any circumstances to directly allow you to grab a rare.  You can't buy the rares that you need for specific decks with your electrum, and all you can do is use inefficient decks until the game is in a good mood.  Additionally, while I believe that the electrum profit from just winning is pretty low, the main issue is that you, again, can't use the guaranteed reward to aim towards your ultimate goal of getting specific rares for certain decks.  The barrier from guaranteed rewards and just getting lucky just isn't very fun or intuitive to me.  Also, again, the spinner can outright deny you of a good deal of your potential profit for no good reason, and there's no way to increase your odds.

Well this is quite an impressive first post. It's certainly more interesting than most of the stuff you see in the "Introduce Yourself" section. Anyways, onto your points.

First off, winning always gives you electrum, which can be used to buy cards. Against some opponents, the electrum wons outweighs the value of a card won from the spins. As for the RNG involved in determining whether or not you win a card, it's very similar to a system I've seen in many other games. When a boss dies, there is a certain % chance that an item will be dropped. Sometimes no item is dropped at all.

Electrum can also be used to upgrade cards, which will give your deck a much higher speed and win rate. Even if you don't win a rare from the special spin in arena, the electrum you gained from the wins that took you there will help you win rares further down the road.

And ultimately, the individual spins are not going to make a huge difference. You're probably going to eventually want a lot of copies of all of the rares, which means each spin has a fairly small effect in the long run. Consider it an accomplishment whenever you get to a special spin, even if you don't win a card from it.

Personally I think it would be better if a special spin guaranteed a rare, but it's not really that important of an issue. Hope you have a nice time with the forum and game.

Thanks, just trying to give my 2 cents.

I kinda expected someone to bring up item drops.  The thing is, I don't think this is necessarily good design either.  While it's used very often, I don't really think that's a reason for it to be used.  I think the FAQ mentioned a quote about graveyards, and that it's really common and not a good design and that elements can do better etc.  I think this is a case of that.  If any of you have played Puzzle and Dragons or something, you would know how lame the drop rates for essential monsters are (50%? yeah ok lmao).  I've also heard that World of Warcraft, the most popular mmo etc, had hilariously low drop rates for essential fetch quest items or w/e.  It's not fun in the games that I've played (unless the battle system is really cool), and I imagine it's not fun with WoW either.

The thing with electrum is that it's just not as rewarding to me.  If the electrum had the potential to buy rares, it would give them a lot more value imo.  When you consider upgrading cards, all it really does in the long run is let you play the roulette more often/quicker, which kind of sidesteps the issue rather than solving it.  I mean obviously electrum is required for upgraded decks and whatnot, but getting electrum becomes tedious since the electrum rewards (even with EM) the rewards seem really underwhelming when the card drops from higher ranked or w/e AI either matches the reward or blows it out of the water when sold on top of potentially being useful by itself.  On top of that, some rares are kind of essential or at least play a big part in the strategies of higher-tier decks, and without them, the deck is just inefficient.  I don't like being restricted like that, especially when my hard work to get the restriction removed is just based on a dice roll.

I disagree regarding the spins not making a difference.  Like I said, playing with the spinner is the only way to get rares by yourself outside of donating and whatnot, and the spinner is so flawed that it's just obnoxious for no good reason.  You could be rolling around in electrum, but if your rares aren't there, I don't think you can reasonably compete or just have fun making the decks that you want to make.  You're still restricted by the dice roll, and the rewards that are guaranteed don't directly or reliably contribute to getting towards the ultimate goal of making the deck that you want.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 06:22:40 AM by pigantibiotics »

Offline serprex

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191889#msg1191889
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2015, 10:04:57 PM »
The bottleneck for cardpools in this game is electrum, not rares, when it comes to upgrades. If you want to say there's a chicken-egg problem with grinding rares to grind Arena with, FEVER

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191911#msg1191911
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2015, 12:53:48 AM »
I, for one, completely agree that there is a problem with how the rares are obtained in elements. Personally, I think if the game wanted to keep a somewhat random aspect the spinner could be replaced with a shell game style of reward (Three different rares are shown, flipped over, shuffled, and you pick one). I think if the cost-of-upgrade gap was shifted this might even replace the normal spinners that you come across. However, I doubt any such change will be made in the near future, given update stagnation and what little of the next update is shown in trainer.
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Offline Sera

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191922#msg1191922
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2015, 02:26:38 AM »
This is pretty hard to balance. I don't agree with making rares easier to get, I've obtained a full set in a few weeks and that immediately took out the "oh wow, new card!" feel. You'll run out of things to do very quickly if you do that. But let's look at your options:

Option 1: Make the special spin a little harder to get, but give unlimited spins (so that it always guarantees a rare)
So maybe you can add another "ring" or two to fill in for the special spin for this. That's nice, but not for the new players. If you're still trying to get your first few rares with your 80% winrate unupgraded rareless deck, an extra ring cuts your chances of getting to it by 20%, while someone with an upgraded bronze grinder, with maybe 95%+ winrate, will only see a loss of 5% for the guaranteed rare. So what you're doing here is just helping the rich get them easier, and make it harder on the newer players.

Option 2: Place the rares in an AI that takes huge effort to beat, but has a guaranteed drop.
You need two consecutive wins in Plat, which is arguably harder than FGs, to get an upgraded special spin. So to balance the effort (as I'm highly against making it easier) let's say that you simply need two consecutive wins against FGs to win a guaranteed unupgraded rare. That's very harsh for the newer players, they need two consecutive wins with a shabby 10-20% winrate deck, while the older ones with a good FG deck have ~50% winrate which makes rare grinding very easy.

So are we seeing a pattern here?

RNG on drops is actually a mechanic that attempts to give a newbies a shot at items that require a great amount of effort, in almost every game. By placing an item behind RNG with an easier task, newbies have that 10% or so chance at obtaining them, which is preferable compared to the other option of placing it as a guaranteed drop from a very hard task, which might even be impossible for them to do. In MMOs, if you took out that rare drop from a dungeon and placed it in a harder version of it as a guaranteed drop, only those with better gears actually have a shot at it now, which means you're cutting off that stepping stone for those that don't have the gears yet to clear that, get the drop and gear up.

I can see why RNG would frustrate you, I've been there too. But if the ultimate goal is to help lessen the steep grinding curve, increasing difficulty while increasing the chances is not the right way to do that.

In some games, I've seen the option of making rares obtainable with a special currency that drops from dungeons, so that your effort will guarantee a rare in the end. But that's no different from making rares obtainable from Bazaar with a high cost, because the game doesn't have a trade system that affects the worth of normal currency (electrum).
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 02:29:16 AM by Puff »

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Re: RNG, grinding, and card collecting http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=58512.msg1191931#msg1191931
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2015, 03:07:50 AM »
If you get 5 wins in Bronze with an 80% deck, your chance of getting a rare is apparently 73% given perfect play. If using option 1 and adding another ring, your chance of getting a rare is 80%. This removes the frustration from the RNG of the spin, and makes it a little easier for new players to get rares.
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