Lessons In Game Design: 9DragonsBy: Zanpakutou posted at Jun 17, 2012 2:47 pm
So 9Dragons is one of those games that are insanely grind heavy. This game is a grind like no other. Despite that, they have some really good features that still made it interesting. Of course, it also means that they have some things that they REALLY need to avoid because it makes it annoying to deal with.
1) Skills get stronger with use
Unlike other games where you get skill points to spend as you level up or you purchase new skills with gold as you level up, in 9Dragons, you only have to spend money (or items) to learn a skill. Once you learn a skill, you basically have to grind it in order for it to get stronger. Many skills scale extremely well and items and equipment are far less significant as a result. Weapons only become more important once you get to the high levels (over 120+) when your basic stats and buffs are capped. A fully buffed character (without item mall) can get a bonus of over 170 stat points, the equivalent of nearly 40 levels. Getting good equipment definitely helps, but it is a relatively minor factor at late game.
2) There is only so much grind people can take
The grind in this game is ridiculous. Many people have resorted to macros and cheating to train up their skills. This is a clear sign that the grind is just too much for people. It can take as many as 30,000 casts of a skill to level it up and many skills have 12 levels. Perhaps 100,000 casts to max your skill is just too much. This means sitting in front of your computer pressing 1 30,000 times so that you can level it up. You also have to kill like 10,000 enemies at level 130 to level up. The level cap was 216 last I checked. This can take a very long time.
3) Bosses always drop decent stuff
One of the best things is that if you fight a level appropriate boss, you will always receive a decent reward for your efforts. The most common is Blood Essence, an item needed to refine weapons to increase their damage output. Sometimes, they drop several and some bosses drop excellent items such as ones that give life steal or increase your defense by a fairly high amount. Raid bosses require 3 dungeon passes to enter, but they always drop at least one piece (sometimes 2) of rare equipment. On top of that, at the end of a raid dungeon, there are dozens of chests that drop elixirs (items that can permanently increase your stats, but each type can only give a certain amount max) so that most people get something out of it. The rewards are definitely excellent if you are able to do them. Your raids will never go to waste and the only downside is that you have to split your post boss loot.
4) Equipment is not too important
Most of your damage output is from your weapon, but it isn't as important as it seems. A highly upgraded weapon gives about 4 times more damage than a non upgraded one, but getting your strongest passive attack to level 10 has the same effect. Active skills (like special attacks) actually provide the largest amount of damage in PvP and can be overwhelmingly strong in PvE if maxed. Few clothes give stat bonuses, but your quests and such give you a decent starter. Your class promotion set at level 104 also gives you excellent stats with only extremely high level raids (like level 140+) giving you anything superior to it. Of course, getting the right piece is the hard part, but the stats are always excellent none the less. Only a few rare gloves might be game breaking because they give a huge boost in damage (highest I ever saw was I believe 700). The Epithets (titles) that you earn also give you a nice boost in stats. The early ones are not that great, but as you get on, it starts to scale better.
5) Changing the class dominance in PvP is not a fix
One of the major problems with the game early on was that the Nuker class was dominant in PvP due to scaling. However, Healers and Hybrid classes ruled in PvE as a result giving the Warriors the short end of the stick in every situation. However, in a later patch in the non-English versions, the balance shifted to Warrior due to stat rebalancing. The result was that Warriors dominated on an even larger scale than Nukers ever did because of it. The English version chose to forgo this patch, but that pissed off a lot more people as a result. It was a no win situation for them and they actually took the hard way. The result at least was that they started making defense and magic defense more plentiful in at least some places so that it wasn't as bad as before.
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