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Crafter's Roundtable: The Terminus Express

    • 1532 posts
    January 24, 2019 8:16 AM PST

    Yup. It's time for another Crafter's Roundtable, where we ask all of our crafters what their opinions are about an important topic for Pantheon! As always, the point of these questions is to promote discussion among the community, and maybe something insightful or awesome will emerge that VR can leverage as they build the game. Let's get to it, then.

    The question:

    Today's topic is a deceptively simple question: How should the in-game mail system work? Or, should there even be one?


    We asked the website staff over at Pantheon Crafters to weigh in on this to help get discussion started, and here's what they had to say.



    From Khaleesi:

    If there is mail - can we send advertisements? Maybe I can make a postcard with a key to a brand new chest taped to it!

    If I say that it's a truckload / tent sale that is going to leave town with all of the good deals, maybe everybody in Terminus will come to buy a 147k mile used chest instead. And if nobody shows up with the winning key, all the better.



    From Trasak:

    Mail systems usually combine two concepts into one, a long term message document system and a parcel service.

    A long term message document system aka in game email vs temporary text chat messages is perfectly fine. I would have the in game email just be a part of the ui and not have any in game mechanics. I could see Khaleesi's idea as a function of the email system but I would change it more condensed daily or weekly flier that all advertisements are grouped together and the size and prominence of the add is based on how much you paid. This way the email would just be a link to a specific XML page rather than everyone having their own copy of all the images for data storage purposes.

    A parcel service on the other hand is a lot trickier. Parcel services, especially instantaneous, tend to defeat the localization that VR has been targeting for Pantheon especially if mailboxes are common and full service.

    If I were to include a parcel service in the game it would be costly, limited in drop off and pick up points and weight dependent but with flat item minimums. Similar to RL parcel services I would have a window of time for drop off that equates to a different pickup time at another parcel service location. The player would need to arrive at the new location to pick up their deliveries and cart it to the local warehouse/bank they wanted to store it in. In the future I could see an option to deliver the items to player housing for an added fee.

    Additionally after a time non picked up items would go onto the the public repo vendor. This would help limit the number of items in the parcel system at any one time. I remember at one point WoW had to do a major patch to change their mail system hardware and data structure due to the raw data impact of people using their mail as a storage system.



    From Autherial:

    I am not against a mail delivery system in game as long as it does not detract from the role play element of the game. For instance I don't want to see a mail system like wow etc, I am thinking more along the lines of a courier system. Where either you get a notification the courier npc has mail for you in a particular town, or you could make it to where everyone gets a global message that the courier is in town and you can travel to him to gather your mail. I am weary of anything that detracts from the social element of the game.



    From Nephele:

    So when I think about a mail system, like Trasak, I think about a few different concepts that get combined into the same interface.

    First, there's the ability to send text messages to people who may not be online, that they can read later. I feel like this is really important to have - I mean sure, most of us are part of 27 different Discord servers but there's no guarantee that we'll be in a shared Discord with that person we just met in game 3 days ago. So, some kind of in-game letter functionality is important, and it would be nice to see it not be restricted to only people on your friends list, or something like that.

    Then there's item delivery. I think item delivery between players is important to have, just because people's play schedules differ. You can't always be online at the same time as someone else to meet them and trade something to them. So being able to send them a package with the item in it helps tremendously.

    From an economic perspective, I'm ok with reasonable limitations on a mail system (when it comes to item deliveries) so that it doesn't turn into an easy way for players to bypass regional markets. For example, limiting the number of items you can attach to a single mail, or instituting a longer delay (or an additional delivery fee, or both) if the recipient is on a different continent when the package is sent. I wouldn't want those restrictions to be so heavy that they make "selling" an item via mail completely impractical, but they shouldn't be things you can ignore either.

    Finally, I'd really like to see the mail system represented in-world. Instead of us only ever seeing a magic box that you put things in and/or take things out of, I'd love to see courier NPCs out on the roads traveling between towns. I'm not saying that we should be able to attack them and steal other people's mail or anything like that, but if the game's going to have a mail system, let's make that mail system a visible and believable part of the world, rather than just a UI feature that's never explained. In the real world, there are post offices and mail carriers because stuff doesn't arrive at its destination by magic. The same should be true, from a lore/immersion perspective, in Terminus.



    That's enough from us, now let's hear from everyone else! How do you think Pantheon's in-game mail system should work? Or, should there even be one?

    • 1826 posts
    January 24, 2019 9:21 AM PST

    Nephele said:

    How do you think Pantheon's in-game mail system should work? Or, should there even be one?

    I'm in favor of a mail system but with a few caveats:

    A simple message delivery system that contains only text could be global in that any message sent to me I could retrieve at any mail box anywhere.

    Any parcel delivery (which I think more people are interested in than just mail) would need both a name and a delivery location.  If I want to send Nephele that Tunic he ordered, I need to know where he wants to pick it up.  Thronefast?  Skar?  Wild's End?  It should not be global like simple messages

    Any parcel delivery should have both a delivery cost (based upon weight) and a transit time.  The transit time would depend upon the distance between the shipper and receiver.  Thronefast to Wild's End?  Fairly short, perhaps 1 real day.  Wild's End to Skar? 2 or 3 real days.

    But there is another choice and that is a Courier Contract from EVE Online.

    The item being shipped is wrapped into a package which cannot be inspected (nobody will know what is inside it) and it cannot be opened except by the intended recipient.  The shipper includes in the contract a required collateral, the payment amount for a successful delivery and the timeframe in which the item must be delivered.

    Any person who wants to accept the courier contract pays the collateral fee up front. This is held in escrow by the server and is refunded upon successful delivery.

    The courier then takes the package to the delivery location (some mailbox in the designated city or to the specific person*).  Upon succesful delivery the courier is paid and their collateral refunded.

    Version 1 would be very hands-off but also slow.  The fees would be lower but delivery is guaranteed and there is no change that any other player could adversly affect the delivery.

    Version 2 gives enterprising players a way to make money, travel around the world and make a reputation for themselves as dependable and reliable.  EVE Online had RedFrog Freight. For some players this was their main activity in EVE.  This service would be faster, but would cost more and introduces a degree of risk where someone could fail a delivery.  While the package cannot be opened and the item taken, a truly failed delivery where the item is unrecoverable is a possibility.  The shipper loses the item, but the co

    *If the system could be designed to deal with person-to-person deliveries that would be cool. I can see a huge potential for griefing where the delivery person is deliberately deep in some dungeon where the courier cannot reach, thus automatically failing the contract and forfeiting their collateral.


    This post was edited by Vandraad at January 24, 2019 9:22 AM PST
    • 13 posts
    January 24, 2019 9:53 AM PST

    I think there should be a mail service as it would facilitate other functions.

    I'd be interest in seeing a 'city job board' where players can post a request for an item/items to be made/harvested with a set price on the task. Items as part of this would be sent via the mail service.
    Example:
    Crafter/harvester goes to the board and finds a task for "Create a steel short sword of medium or better quality. Payment 5 gold. Timeframe 1 hour."

    If the crafter takes the task, they have 1 hour to complete the task. If they make the item, they can somehow submit the sword. The game will then give them 5 gold and the sword is sent to the requester via the mail. If the crafter fails to meet the task... not sure if there is a penalty


    There would also be a city-wide broker / aution system. When a player purchases an item they can receive the item either instantly or via the mail system. In turn the crafter would receive payment via the mail system or broker.

     

    Outside of the above idea... It is handy to have a way to communicate to someone who's offline and you want to tell/give something.


    This post was edited by tolliner at January 24, 2019 9:58 AM PST
    • 163 posts
    January 24, 2019 11:53 PM PST

    I still believe a parcel service would defeat the purpose of immersion and there for am not really a fan off it. Than again it is a quality of live thing that most players probably want. (i just prefer /auction and p2p trade).

    To keep the immersion, i really love the idea's vandraad suggested above. But instead want to combine both into 1. Where the buyer has the option, possibly via mail text, to choose if he wants a courier contract being issued or standaard parcel delivery. Kind of like in the real world, where you can choose express vs standard delivery? Or maybe even have the option to select a different drop off point closer to his current location.

    All in all, the item(s) should never be able to get lost because this can incite trolls to do just that. If you still want to keep that mechanic thats fine, but if a courier loses a package he is not able to take any contracts for x days, simply to prevent someone from purposely losing packages because they can afford it.

    • 127 posts
    January 25, 2019 9:11 AM PST

    Letters/text mail is all well and good and doesn't need many restrictions.

    Item delivery however should take location and transition into account. If you deposit an object directly for someone at a bank or warehouse (it doesn't make sense to stick anything and everything in a mailbox), the recipient can pick it up from that warehouse whenever they please. But only from that bank/warehouse.

    If someone wants to send an item to another person by courier, then for me just the passage of time alone wouldn't suffice. I'd like there to be a physical transportation of the item by a real NPC that takes a bunch of parcels and travels between warehouse A and B every hour or so. And it should be possible for that NPC to be intercepted by NPC bandits or other players along the road, and all the parcels stolen. Players could also take contracts to escort the courier to his destination and receive payment upon arrival.

    Failing a fun courier system like that, a very expensive option to pay an NPC magic user (or perhaps even a player Wizard or Summoner that requires a reagent) to teleport your goodies over to a warehouse of your choice could also work out alright. But the choice should always be up to the person sending the item, not the one receiving it.

    • 1826 posts
    January 25, 2019 9:43 AM PST

    decarsul said:

    To keep the immersion, i really love the idea's vandraad suggested above. But instead want to combine both into 1. Where the buyer has the option, possibly via mail text, to choose if he wants a courier contract being issued or standaard parcel delivery. Kind of like in the real world, where you can choose express vs standard delivery? Or maybe even have the option to select a different drop off point closer to his current location.

    Sorry if I my post came across as an an either-or option.  I too would prefer they both be available, letting the player decide which they want to use.

    Kaeldorn said:

    If someone wants to send an item to another person by courier, then for me just the passage of time alone wouldn't suffice. I'd like there to be a physical transportation of the item by a real NPC that takes a bunch of parcels and travels between warehouse A and B every hour or so. And it should be possible for that NPC to be intercepted by NPC bandits or other players along the road, and all the parcels stolen. Players could also take contracts to escort the courier to his destination and receive payment upon arrival.

    I would strongly disagree that there should be a physical manifestation of the actual delivery which NPCs could interrupted.  While some players might want to play escort, you aren't guaranteed people will sign up to defend such a caravan.  If a player even thinks that their package would not be delivered by an NPC, nobody would use the service..especially for high-end/expensive/rare items.  No, the use of an NPC delivery should just auto-magically appear at the destination after some set period of time.  The service already has a cost and time component so nothing more is needed.

    • 424 posts
    January 27, 2019 2:27 AM PST

    I'll put my shortened version here. The long one you can find at https://www.pantheoncrafters.com/threads/crafters-roundtable-the-terminus-express.246/.

     @Khaleesi If such a multirecipient option is allowed. Then please design a filter system so that players can block or mitigate "spam". Abuse should be prevented in the design if possible.

    @Trasak Both options should be available in the game, and it could be written so that the organisation allows the player for these two styles of services. Keeping the two seperate and not just an all in one system, gives the dev's a lot of story content options. 

    I would pass on making mailingservices, just a UI feature. This (at least to my understanding) would mean, you can use the mail at any given time or location. To for me seems like the dev's would have skipped a corner. There is a lot of dept you can add to this 'ingame-'service'. Give it a story, give it some risk. Just designing into UI, would make it less of an actual part of the world of Terminus. And that would be a shame.

    Relating to the parcel delivery system, I'll link a thread on patheoncrafters forum: https://www.pantheoncrafters.com/threads/delivery-services.244/

    This gives my take on how things could be looked at. (more dept suggestion will be edited)

    You can put a timer on the retrieval of a parcel, but don't make it dissappear. This seems risky as it could push players away of the system as a whole. Things unused, are poorly designed at their core. So, allow players to retrieve their parcels at an npc who stores it for them. This "storage" could be restricted in the way that other players would not be able to sent anything else, until that player has cleared out some space in their "mail/parcel storage".

    Putting out an extra fee for parcels, is a good idea. You'll want it to be a consideration for the players. It's costly, but is it worth it, or should I hand over the item by other means. That allows a subtle motivation for community interaction and ingame time investement (travel). There is no obligation, but if you're not willing to pay that extra fee, you'll have to find other means to get your goods across. The fee itself should scale, as otherwise the fee will be so little that it lost it's value/incentive. So let it grow with the levels and products. (read: higher level, higher risks for the postal service, more efforts required to secure delivery, more valueable items etc. Figuratively!)

    One should always keep in mind, that the MMO-factor is more important then extra facility to players. Otherwise you'll end up with players doing everything from their homes or guildhalls. And the streets will empty and community interaction will be lost over time. This should never be forgotten when designing this extra service to the players.

    Messaging alone should have a fee, but no weightcost. Any other added item, coin, goods, gear, could indeed have a weightfactor on it. This could tie into the prevention of abusive playstyle of the mailboxsystem. And possibly severe issues with items in mail on a serverwide scale.


    This post was edited by Barin999 at January 27, 2019 2:29 AM PST
    • 424 posts
    January 27, 2019 2:40 AM PST

    Vandraad said:

    I'm in favor of a mail system but with a few caveats:

    *1) Any parcel delivery (which I think more people are interested in than just mail) would need both a name and a delivery location.  If I want to send Nephele that Tunic he ordered, I need to know where he wants to pick it up.  Thronefast?  Skar?  Wild's End?  It should not be global like simple messages

     Any parcel delivery should have both a delivery cost (based upon weight) and a transit time.  The transit time would depend upon the distance between the shipper and receiver.  Thronefast to Wild's End?  Fairly short, perhaps 1 real day.  Wild's End to Skar? 2 or 3 real days.

    *2) The item being shipped is wrapped into a package which cannot be inspected (nobody will know what is inside it) and it cannot be opened except by the intended recipient.  The shipper includes in the contract a required collateral, the payment amount for a successful delivery and the timeframe in which the item must be delivered.

    Any person who wants to accept the courier contract pays the collateral fee up front. This is held in escrow by the server and is refunded upon successful delivery.

    The courier then takes the package to the delivery location (some mailbox in the designated city or to the specific person*).  Upon succesful delivery the courier is paid and their collateral refunded.

    3*) EVE Online had RedFrog Freight. For some players this was their main activity in EVE.  This service would be faster, but would cost more and introduces a degree of risk where someone could fail a delivery.  While the package cannot be opened and the item taken, a truly failed delivery where the item is unrecoverable is a possibility.  The shipper loses the item, but the co

    *1) Yep, check out: https://www.pantheoncrafters.com/threads/delivery-services.244/

          It makes sense and adds more dept and connection with the world. 

    *2) This system seems very design heavy. I understand the potential, but I would not step into doing this as a carrier in Pantheon myself. Again, it's a extensive design. Would you reach enough players to make the designtime worth it's time? I just don't know. If there is a parcel delivery system outside that, I wouldn't see the benefit of it. 

    3*) I get that it could work in a space game. But in Terminus, the world and distances are not that massive. Especially with the risk of losing parcels,... I'm just not convinced it would be that much fun. I see it working out more like you suggested earlier on, the further your parcel needs to be delivered, the longer it takes. Up to a max amount of time. But I'ld gladly try it out some time if they do decide to put it in.

     

    • 424 posts
    January 27, 2019 2:54 AM PST

    Kaeldorn said:

    Letters/text mail is all well and good and doesn't need many restrictions.

    Item delivery however should take location and transition into account. If you deposit an object directly for someone at a bank or warehouse (it doesn't make sense to stick anything and everything in a mailbox), the recipient can pick it up from that warehouse whenever they please. But only from that bank/warehouse.

    If someone wants to send an item to another person by courier, then for me just the passage of time alone wouldn't suffice. I'd like there to be a physical transportation of the item by a real NPC that takes a bunch of parcels and travels between warehouse A and B every hour or so. And it should be possible for that NPC to be intercepted by NPC bandits or other players along the road, and all the parcels stolen. Players could also take contracts to escort the courier to his destination and receive payment upon arrival.

    Failing a fun courier system like that, a very expensive option to pay an NPC magic user (or perhaps even a player Wizard or Summoner that requires a reagent) to teleport your goodies over to a warehouse of your choice could also work out alright. But the choice should always be up to the person sending the item, not the one receiving it.

    That's an interesting take on the bank/Warehouse system. It could make for a good design, it doesn't relate to mailing as such. But it could be another means of passing on goods. Perhaps this could be connected to faction housing or crafting guilds and access of extra services. (this would be a fun suggestion thread as a whole).

    I'ld have to pass on the physical transport as wel. But that doesn't mean the risks would have to dissappear. There could be a story around it. So for example, wraiths to the east of Wilds End might scare "couriers" and coin gets lost during travel. Goods ALWAYS get delivered, but since a portion coin has lost, you'll have to pay more or need to sent another batch of coin on another "courier run". This courier is none existing.. but the story remains. If no one interacts with the actual courier npc; who unlocks..check out the wraiths. The portion of coin loss increases. And players might be more motivated to check out what they can do against these wraiths. 

    This "fictional danger", could be present all across the world. It could impact all local parcel services. Each with its own threat. When the danger is tackled, the service might again be more efficient and no coin might "dissappear" or no extra fees need to be payed to safeguard passage from one town to another. (again fictional so, purely events or stories happening, not physical couriers. The mobs are already present there anyway, so why not use them for this, through this kind of storyline.) It could give more connection to the world and things happening in Terminus.

    I also like the idea of a VERY expensive postal service, where you allow magic to do the parcel shipping for you. If it's in a good story, I'll buy it and most likely enjoy the option in the game. I see this working out for raid preparation or groupforming. Where a player might need that must have item within a very short time. So yes, nice.


    This post was edited by Barin999 at January 27, 2019 2:58 AM PST