Crystal League (needs a) Rework (RT X-Post)

    • 5v5 Crystal League
    • Crystal League (needs a) Rework (RT X-Post)

      THIS IS A CROSS-POST FROM THE ROUND-TABLE

      The current Crystal League System is failing; what that means to me is different than what it means to the developers, I have no knowledge of what the intention for the system is, but regardless I think just by looking at the numbers we can agree that it is failing. I'll apologize now, normally I would spend much longer on a post like this and make it easier to digest/more thought out, however I've started and stopped writing this many times over the last few months for a few reasons, and I wanted to quickly make this post so that we can finally start the discussion about it.

      As a note, everything I talk about in this post is related to the 5v5 Crystal League, not 20v20, but can be extrapolated as unlike how you can argue 5v5 is failing, I believe 20v20 has failed.

      The Numbers


      As of January 4th 2022, before the NA Crystal matches, the above image shows the amount of unique characters who have fought in one Crystal League match at each level. (All accurate information about Crystal engagement comes from TheBlackAvenger, big thanks mate)

      (I'll be using this population chart for anytime I reference player count across the entire game, I don't want to spend a lot of time getting accurate data and even though I know this chart isn't accurate, the numbers will make a persuasive argument regardless i.imgur.com/Q11t6Ww.png)

      Based on the population chart let's call it 75,000 players total in the last 90 days (again, doesn't matter if there was 50% more people who have logged into the game, the argument still holds and is more persuasive the more people there are. For reference and information on why using a number like this is normally dumb, 306,505 people have either been killed or killed someone at least one time in the last 90 days.):

      - 7623 unique characters fought in a level 1 Crystal (~10%)
      - 1960 unique characters moved on to a level 2 Crystal (~2.5%)

      - 8836 unique characters have fought in any Crystal at least one time (~12%)
      - 6474 unique characters have fought in more than one Crystal (~9%)
      - 1623 unique characters have fought in more than ten Crystals (~2.1%)

      I believe it's very distressing that only 1623 unique characters in the 90 day time period prior to January 4th have actually engaged in the content on a semi-regular basis (although I'd argue 10 times in 90 days is still not regular) whereas many more have tried it and stopped for various reasons.

      Things to keep in mind:
      - Some can be alts
      - 5 people per team
      - The above numbers are from a 90 day period

      Here's more charts to look at, but I won't talk too much more about numbers:



      Please keep in mind that where outlined in red there is a large gap in the data from October 2020 - September 2021



      I'm not going to write more about the numbers, but a big thankyou to TheBlackAvenger for providing all the information. He's started a new section on his website where you can further look at some of the data shown here as well as other information about Crystals (Like, Aingz having the most crystal matches fought in) app.sigmacomputing.com/embed/3gHvVuNY1mQRhiDdAj7iTS


      The Problems
      1 - Accessibility (Covers a lot of sins, this one)
      2 - Separated from the Game
      3 - 9 Levels | Artificial Ranking that Doesn't Work
      4 - The Game Mode
      5 - Rewards
      6 - Misc.

      I could write for an extremely long time about the state of Crystals, problems, potential solutions, etc.; the goal of this post is to share what I believe are the problems and what I believe are potential solutions to the issues Crystal League is facing. I'm not going to write too much because it's not my place to change the design, and I don't know what the actual intention of the Crystal League is. It shouldn't be argued, but in Albion the two most marketable pieces of content we have are large ZvZ battles and Crystal League content -- even outside of the events like Invasion Days and the CLC. The sponsored streamers and youtubers I've talked to have all agreed on this as well, but I really think that the Crystal League is being underutilized, I just don't know if that's the intention. AO could have this moba-esque part of the game thrive, but whether that's what the developers want and if that's healthy for the game is up to them. The current piece of content is my favourite part of the game, and there are a lot of issues with it that regardless of the intention of the system, should be addressed.

      I'm just going to write bullet points for each problem, and I'm going to leave a lot out, but most of these issues should be obvious to anyone who looks at/engages in the system.

      1. Accessibility
      • No interface/assistance in making a group of 5 players in-game
      • Outside of L1s, multiple sets per member need to be prepared before the match (large initial investment that you don't break even on)
      • Bad IP Scaling across levels
      • No way to practice (Arena != Crystals) as a new team/someone who wants to do the content (Scrims are only used by established teams)
      • Extreme barrier to entry
      • Players unable to enjoy & interact with the content fully due to the timers* - edited in as I originally forgot about it, but it is a massive deal
      • a lot more
      2. Separated from the Game
      • No info in-game about the system (nothing that even tells new players/existing players the content exists, true for a lot of things in the game)
      • Directly affects no game systems other than Season Points (whether or not this is an issue depends on the intention of the system)
      • a lot more, very similar to accessibility for many points
      3. 9 Levels | Artificial Ranking that Doesn't Work
      • Quite simply, there shouldn't be 9 levels
      • No actual ranking system, outside of the artificial separation that happens when higher level crystals are going on. Teams who fight in level 5+ beat teams who are starting out/moving up from level 1/2s making them not want to engage in the content again
      • etc.
      4. The Game Mode
      • Players have optimized the game mode to the point where matches are lasting just seven minutes, where as they used to last upwards of fifteen
        • Shorter matches means the only time new/mid-tier teams get to engage in 5s, they lose without being able to practice
      • Hard to swing 20-ticks, even after death can still hold the caps
      • etc.
      5. Rewards
      • The rewards are bad
        • You don't profit if you win with a reasonable amount of deaths (between level 2s-5s I'd say this is true)
      • etc.
      6. Misc.
      • Abuse
        • Starting to see this a lot more now, guilds qing up 5 teams hoping they match against each other for the free points
          • Not only are they abusing the system to get higher tokens and more rewards, but they take away the opportunity for a team to engage in the content and have fun
      • Balancing
        • Not really an issue at all for why Crystals aren't more popular, but thought I'd mention that it feels like the meta's been stale for a bit.
      • Problems with the map
      Potential Solutions
      Again, I'm just going to bullet point out and explain a few potential solutions, but ultimately it's up to the devs/designers to look at what they want Crystals to be and change things for that goal. About a month ago there was a small discussion about the state of Crystals and various solutions talked about, but I want to make it clear that while I’m sure there are small tweaks that can ease the issues now, a larger overhaul is needed.

      I also want to stress that for people who consistently play Crystals, one of the core components that’s been a part of the game mode since launch has been the ‘cap game’ domination style game mode. Kills being worth less than half that of a 10 point rotation and 20% of a 20-tick actually worked out to be incredibly interesting, until people optimized and started abusing this strategy as we see now. But, is it really abuse if they are just playing the game mode? My intention with any change I suggest is to keep the game mode as is, not turn it into a form of ‘Team Death Match’ where we are simply fighting and caps are an afterthought.

      Dying should have more impact, you shouldn't be able to hold all 3 caps in a 3v5 easily nearly every time, but these changes and the potential issues they open up aren't the solution. It was mentioned how small tweaks can be done now, while big overhauls etc. need a lot more resources and time, and while I really appreciate that, the solutions that we can implement now aren't solutions but stopgaps, and really the entire system needs overhauling.

      Here are some potential solutions to some of the problems listed above, but I want to be clear that I'm not saying that my/these ideas need to be implemented, but I do feel that some of them would help make the system much better. In bold are the ideas that I think are either extremely needed or would be great changes, and not bolded are ideas that are interesting and have potential to be explored further. I'll update this list as I hear feedback/other solutions that fit one of those two categories. Again, not an exhaustive list because I'm just writing this up so I can point to something, but still a list with good solutions.

      Core Changes
      • 9 > 6 or 7 Levels of Crystals
        • We don't need 9 Levels of Crystals, we need some form of a ranking system. I'm not going to propose a new level system because there are so many ways to design it, but I do think a Level 0 Crystal for nonlethal, all day queueable in group or solo is needed.
          • Level 0 Crystals: Queueable all day, practice, non-lethal. Able to be solo-qd (Arena replacement)
          • Level 1 Crystals: The lowest level of Crystals, lethal.
      • Opt-In debuff that lowers IP by x (100?) but increases rewards if you win (has to be team unanimous and you have to have won x amount at that level already)
        • This was just a random idea I had once, but if we actually fix the levels/ranking system, it's not really needed
      • Complete loot/reward overhaul; if the idea is that the rewards shouldn't be high because you get the enemies loot, etc. it's not working. Level 1-5s is very bad silver considering the immense time commitment, preparation, etc. whereas corrupted dungeons offer so much more silver per hour that it's more worth to do them as one person and pay your teammates than it is to Crystal.
      Accessibility Changes
      • Some form of queueable practice -- either arena rework, queueable level 1 crystals all day, etc.
      • Don't drop loot during the match
        • Help offset the large initial investment, at least for lower levels, by not dropping loot during the match but at the end giving the winning team a chest of all loot. People would still need to bring multiple sets as you can keep trashing on death and they'd have to swap out the trash piece from their chest after respawning
          • not my idea ^ and not one I'm super about but could be interesting. I think it has promise and there are a few ways where it could be very interesting in a Crystal rework, specifically where the rewards are increased. Potentially a lot of ways to abuse it, but a lot of counters, etc. In any case, considering changes to loot/gear investment needs to happen at a per-level basis.
      • Recruitment Board in the Crystal Area so you can form a team in game
      • NPC/Board/Something in every City that directs players to content in the game
        • Crystals, Hellgates, Roads, etc. etc.
      Game Mode Changes
      • Initial Deathtimes are increased by 3s, the scaling stays the same (only early death times should be effected, later deathtimes are exceedingly punishing already and feel good)
      • Re-Capturing a point now is a 2 part process, 8 seconds total (up from 7.5)
      • Initial Capturing of a point is only 1 part, 4 seconds total
        • A neutral point only needs 4 seconds to capture by someone channeling on it
        • An enemy point can be re-neutralized by channeling a capture for 4 seconds
      We can play with the numbers a bit, but the point of this mechanic is to slow down the point game and give a way to not swing by capturing objectives fast, but neutralize the point to stop it from siphoning your points. The intended effect is that a team can send one person to quickly neutralize a point without having to be gone from the fight for a long length of time, and it is much easier to CC and control the enemy for the fewer seconds it will take to neutralize than it will to fully capture the objective. There are a lot of other ways to 'fix' the issues with the current cap game, but I think this is the simplest and most elegant solution that doesn't involve a number of changes coinciding with it. This also doesn't share the issue with just lowering captimes, which will still allow for easily snowballing due to the ease of interrupting captures.

      • A new map.


      Now I'm going to sound like a broken record to some people because for over a year now I have been saying this, but:
      The resource/choke map isn't a masterpiece, even Riot introduces map changes to keep things fresh in League. We've been playing this map for over 3 years, and for 2 years it's been the only map to play.
      In the old GvG system, there was 4 maps, each map lending itself better to certain playstyles/weapons, and each GvG feeling different as a result. However, back then you could prepare for the map you were about to play on. If we just put in random map rotation to the game, it would be really unhealthy. So the solution that I think helps not only the large issues the current resource map has with it's effect on the game mode, but also the staleness of crystals, is replacing the map for a season with an already designed GvG map.

      Introducing, Resources2:


      A quick crystal restyle and the freshness of Crystals can come back with just a simple switch of a map, helping fix issues with the meta, the playstyle, the staleness, etc.
      Now, Resources2 DID have it's own issues, but out of the ~80 consistent Crystal players I've talked to, there hasn't been anyone who has been hard opposed to playing on it. The only criticism the map gets often is that it's easier to backcap on, but as someone who actually played this map when it was live, it's not a big issue and actually adds a fun dynamic to the fight, while also being easy to tell if you're paying attention.

      Not a 100% necessity, but honestly something that I feel would be very welcoming and enjoyable for Crystals. In any case, a random rotation of maps, bad, a new map that you always know you'll be playing on, good.


      Thanks for reading, let me know of any feedback/thoughts about Crystals, and sorry for the post not being exhaustive/thought out more, but I just want to get something out and start the discussion because at the end of the day any time/effort I put into the post only matters if the developers/designers feel the same way and will consider looking into Crystals.
      i stream and post videos on the internet
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      The post was edited 4 times, last by Tazzik ().

    • Agree with a lot of what you are saying, there are definitely many things SBI can do to make crystals more accessible and less of a money drain. Without guilds sponsoring you it's very hard to make any silver playing crystals.

      To keep the meta less stale I've been toying with the idea of introducing items bans into crystals. In the current meta you could see weapons such as redemption/glaive/druidic banned or even items such as royal armors/merc hoods which would completely change the meta for that match. There are different ways you could implement it and it would require some thought on how to deal with the fact that people would now need more different gearsets and items up to spec, but I am just throwing it out there to see what other people might think about it.
    • Boedavildje wrote:

      Agree with a lot of what you are saying, there are definitely many things SBI can do to make crystals more accessible and less of a money drain. Without guilds sponsoring you it's very hard to make any silver playing crystals.

      To keep the meta less stale I've been toying with the idea of introducing items bans into crystals. In the current meta you could see weapons such as redemption/glaive/druidic banned or even items such as royal armors/merc hoods which would completely change the meta for that match. There are different ways you could implement it and it would require some thought on how to deal with the fact that people would now need more different gearsets and items up to spec, but I am just throwing it out there to see what other people might think about it.
      I think it would be really cool if at higher levels (lets say if we go to a 7 level system, having bans at 5/6/7 of 1/3 weapons/armours banned per team would be interesting
      i stream and post videos on the internet
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      youtube.com/SeanTazzik
    • I love everything about this, I'd like to add to that NPC you spoke of, make it a quest at the steppe's so that way new players have a resource as to what content they can look forward to explaining some of the nuances to get them to the other resources already there( the tool tip that pops up when you enter a corrupted dungeon is a great example). Then in town you can change the initial NPC there that que's matches into just a shop for spending favor, crafting battle mounts etc, and have another specifically for planning and organizing matches with a tooltip explaining the nuances for Cgvg's. Everything else is just....I love it add this immediately.
      Avid Handheld Gamer :love:
    • Tbh, just reading that suggestion about introducing items bans actually hyped me, that would be game-changer in a good way, I could go on and write the reasons for what I believe this change would be so good, but I don't think it's needed.

      Like you said, I really think that crystal leagues need a introduction via the game, maybe some sorta of a global event to show the content and giving some minor rewards in the process.

      A new map together with a new system of bans on the highest level, would already renew the content to a, I hope, a better state.

      I have two things I would like to say/suggest:

      1º: About the recent abuse, maybe adding diminishing returns of the teams that win without fighting, but for that we would need some way to confirm that they are indeed doing that: By damage and heal of the match per example.
      I.E: Five players that won many times(a number to be settled) without fighting, based on those stats or other way, in a period of 60(also a number to be settled) days.

      1.1º: As alt's are a very common thing on Albion, the punishment can be applied to the guild of the members.

      1.2º: The plan its to apply so much diminishing returns that its basically a waste of time to do that. And to decrease the punishment, would be by: Time after inicial punishment, or matches fought as normal.

      -------------------------------
      2º: Another thing that stops a lot of players to play the content are the timers, because of another huge content is as everyone knows, ZVZ. And especially EU and NA cgvg timers match the best timers of ZVZ(20UTC and 02UTC), both in quality and in quantity.

      2.1º: So, in my opinion, it would be good to think with an open mind about changing CGVG timers to make it possible for those players to participe in both contents. (Yes, I know and understand that is a very difficult thing, as many people from different countries play daily).

      -------------------------------
      Any more other suggestions I may think, I will update here, but I agree with almost everything you said.
    • i agree


      my main issues would be rewards

      and lack of map variety

      bring back resources2, maybe even rotate maps each season


      I think lvl1 crystals should be like every 30minutes or arena style queue up and play, maybe even rush hours

      Maybe even a system where you essentially "bet" your one set and the winning teams takes it and you fight with that set entire crystal, eliminating requierment for multiple ones.(obviously points per kill would need to be increased to prevent some cheese shit)

      The post was edited 2 times, last by tabooshka ().

    • @Tazzik A very well made suggestion post.

      As much as I would like to play crystals more, the time investment of gathering a stable team of 5 players does not pay off well enough, as a result most of the matches end up being practice runs on Lvl 1 crystals in makeshift teams of "who can run X spec" (Can be seen reflected in your presented data as a drop from ~10% to ~2.5% unique players between levels 1 and 2). In the end those teams never stick together, despite moving to X level of crystals, requiring to start from the beginning again to adapt the new group members.

      Another issue are the CL timers - depending on time zone people might not have the ablity to run more than 1 pair of matches, which has to be interchanged with other content such as ZvZ or OW, as a result CL not getting enough engagement despite people showing the inscentive to.
      In my small guild the timers are as follows: 5AM (everybody sleeps), 4PM (everybody is at work) and 10PM, the only sane choice to go for, and considering the sleep schedules of my guildmates we either have to commit to CL or go for other content, abandoning CL for the chosen evening.

      One small adjustment to your list I would like to propose is making the lowest level of lethal CL also be spammable (A season point limit for CL is already in place and the might per hour is much lower than the alternatives found in OW are, so I don't think this should cause any serious issues). This should give people more lethal content options for teams of 5 people which could be engaged with on a constant basis outside of OW and HG.

      Also consider that the gear/weapon/armour bans proposal would require the queue system create a match table for registered teams before the actual matches occur (different from how it works right now), as teams would need to be given ample time to change their setups in accordance to the bans. At the same time a signup system of such kind could be additionaly exploited to prevent the abuse you described earlier (multiple teams matching at the same time for free point farm if they meet) by introducing filters.
      Although this would essentially require a lot of changes to CL queue, which I do not see happening outside of a dedicated systems overhaul.
      - You're a monster.
      - Am I?
    • This is good suggestion.

      P.S.

      Tell me why round table still exists ? The game does not need secret server where chosen people can express their opinion directly. RMT empires are destroyed, the game has lots of small alliances who can handle content and isn't bullied by mega alliances anymore.

      I repeat SBI should delete round table discord and treat everyone as equal now. It's over, they are big business no need for small penises to tell them what to do.
    • I agree with almost everything you said honestly. The game needs a good 5v5 content and neither crystal league nor 5v5 hellgates is pleasing right now, which is sad.

      What I always found to be amazing about the game is the fact that the 5v5 is sometimes unbalanced, but always feels like everyone is doing their part. Because you mentionned league, I'll talk about League a little myself. Right now, in League, the meta feels horrible, everyone one shots everyone, you have no real "role", whether you're a tank, a mage, an assassin or a ranged dps, you one shot and get killed in one shot. In albion, the tank applies cc and stuff and can actually sustain a lot of damage withtout getting popped instantly, healers do a lot of... healing etc etc. That's what made Albion's 5v5 so interesting to me, I would love for SBI to give it some love. In my opinion, a lot of content are suffering right now, 2v2, 5v5, 10v10, crystal league and honestly, Corrupted Dungeons are to blame for that.

      Although they are a good addition to the game, the fact that they are SO worth in terms of fame and money and that they are very accessible with almost no need to prepare (just grab a set and let's go !) means that a lot of people stopped looking for groups and for other contents, they just do CDs all day long, making mad bank with almost no effort since the money you lost by losing one CD can be won back in 10 minutes, the time to grab a set, find a dungeon, get a fight and win it in Stalker level. The rare teams that actually want to compete in 5v5/10v10/20v20/Crystal League that aren't veterans in the content get destroyed by experienced teams that do them on the daily and lose their initial (and very high) investment, thus disgusting them and making them rage quit.

      SBI needs to give some attention to Crystal League, and I would argue that they don't need to come up with their own ideas, just consult the veteran players that run high level Crystal League on a daily basis, they are the people that can best balance their content I think ! :D
    • I didn't play pre 5v5 changes, but watching old vods make the maps look so much more interesting than the crystal realm we have now.

      A random map rotation would be cool, thematically based on each region but not so different that players have to compensate mechanically. Just enough to add some variety and keep crystal matches grounded in-world rather than in some nameless void separate from everything else.
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    • i agree with most of the things above, rewards are tiny, playing lvl 2 crystal vs group who played almost 2000 crystal matches (everyone of them) is sad (like, why lvl 2? are they tired of losing vs better people????), but then its the same in hellgates, with an addition of this trash infamy system.
    • U don't understand the customer ..at least some

      A lot of people and a growing number want content easy to consume with low entry barrier..

      It is NOT a matter of rewards..

      It simply sucks to align gaming with 5 other people.. and on top it needs to be the same people..

      That's why CD is most successful even as it is crap..

      That's why 2 hg is 2. Most played instanced game mode...

      That's why 10 hg fights is dead content

      It is so simple..
    • Trial_hard wrote:

      U don't understand the customer ..at least some

      A lot of people and a growing number want content easy to consume with low entry barrier..

      It is NOT a matter of rewards..

      It simply sucks to align gaming with 5 other people.. and on top it needs to be the same people..

      That's why CD is most successful even as it is crap..

      That's why 2 hg is 2. Most played instanced game mode...

      That's why 10 hg fights is dead content

      It is so simple..
      Gotta agree in a way to this, SBI kept buffing 20s because people kept saying that's how you attract more people, now we got rat teams and a few real teams throught all timers. Lv3+ is always same people fighting each other.

      I stopped doing pretty much any instanced content because open world is better, more flexible and also requires less time. From discussing this post with a few other long time players, it really feels GVG was only a thing because everything else sucked, there was no side content and if you did hellgates the logical step was to GVG.
    • Vocandin wrote:

      Gotta agree in a way to this, SBI kept buffing 20s because people kept saying that's how you attract more people, now we got rat teams and a few real teams throught all timers. Lv3+ is always same people fighting each other.<br style="background-color: rgb(252, 253, 254);">
      ?

      We told them to buff PERSONAL rewards.

      What did they do instead? Not listen to the players that are actually playing the content and buff if in a completely unrelated way. Oh! they also added a loot table of artifacts that on avg you get 50k worth of artifacts per match (doesn't matter what level btw).

      Here we are now :)

      So no, they did not buff 20's the way you think they did. And yes, the way to attract more players to this type of content is to give them more incentives to play. The players, not the guilds they're in :)

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Moesephh ().

    • Would just like to add that 20s in specific, adding the league and removing the city conquest system instead of figuring a way to keep it and make it less broken was a fatal mistake. People would have a mcuh higher incentive to do 20s crystals if cities got even a minimal balancing such as lower entry requirements via ip caps for outer cities. Hell, we had MORE 20v20 teams back then than we do now, and don't say that the pugs doing 20s for no shows or hoping for one are actual teams.
    • there is no objective in the game that would be noticed by everyone, that would be valuable, that would give "respect" and that could only be obtained by CGVG...

      old GVG, everyone watched it and everyone knew there were "elite" players. Not having that aspect will never push people in that direction.
    • would love to see arena ditched and a que-able anytime crystal league levels added to replace it. Also maybe something like lvl 0 is all random que (maybe 2 man que at most), lvl 1 queable only with teams but both non lethal / que-able anytime. Not sure whether to keep tokens for entry for that level or not, i like some kind of buy in so rewards can be at least sort of decent for winners, but may drive away new player interest. I love arena think the 5v5 pvp in this game is great but its just so much easier to just que arena and get right to having fun vs trying to set up a crystal team, even with no rewards i still tend to spend most game time playing arena currently. Also agree that there should be a less awkward system than having to re-equip constantly in lethal crystals.

      Also 100% map needs to change / rotate in some manner, that alone will change up viable specs a lot.
    • Quagga wrote:

      there is no objective in the game that would be noticed by everyone, that would be valuable, that would give "respect" and that could only be obtained by CGVG...

      old GVG, everyone watched it and everyone knew there were "elite" players. Not having that aspect will never push people in that direction.
      Very good point as well, even with CLC. City fights were the last thing that gave that feeling you're watching THE best players, I can name dozens of gvgs more memorable than any crystal matches that hapopened since gvgs got removed. People being pushed to their townplots or people losing zones that guilds were heavily associated with generated enormous hype.
    • Actually city plot fights or important GvG did matter for the i involved guilds..

      If It was important we tried deny GVGer we patrolled to prevent delivery of GvG sets..or try Gank GVGer after and before GvG

      It felt integrated and realistic..

      But to be honest, i stopped play 2 months ago just watching from outside if something big changes that makes it interesting for me again ...so my knowledge is now 2+ months aged