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The Karma System on Laughing Skull

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The Karma System on Laughing Skull




We recently released an article announcing our intention to move Ravenholdt’s Karma System to Laughing Skull. This announcement was met uncomfortably by players--many of whom are worried that the system will be a detriment to their realm.


We want to take a moment to reassure players that the system has been severely polished from what it was on Ravenholdt, and also to explain our reasons for bringing the Karma System to Laughing Skull.


In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about the problems with Laughing Skull, what Karma does to solve them, and the data that supports our claims.


The Problem:


High-Risk realms are a unique beast: they take an MMORPG--a genre traditionally known for its emphasis on social interaction--and turn it into an open world FFA battle system where the immediate reaction to meeting any player in the open world is one of forced hostility:


Players who join Laughing Skull hoping to engage in the social aspect of an MMORPG quickly find few methods to do it--in fact, outside of cities and world chat, they’re actively punished for it. For social players, a huge part of the fun of an MMO are the chance meetings that occur in the open world: randomly running into another player, chatting with them, grouping for quests or dungeons, and forming a relationship that will continue while you play.


On Laughing Skull, these interactions are discouraged by the very nature of the realm. Players survive by being distrustful of each other, avoiding interaction and keeping out of sight--walking up to another player gets you killed on Laughing Skull. When everyone is a risk, the goal becomes total avoidance of all other players. For many players on Laughing Skull, a successful play session is one where they encounter zero other players.


Thus, the cycle goes like this:


Social players can’t make friends, so they quit. Meanwhile, players who are less social stick around. Those less social players don’t lend a good experience to new players, and so new players quit. That continues for a few months, and the realm ends up filled with non-social players who make it hard for new players. Therein lies the problem: Laughing Skull’s current setup caters more towards anti-social, toxic behavior in a genre where positive social interaction is one of the major draws to play.


Most people don’t make friends on Laughing Skull, and because of it, Laughing Skull’s player retention is abysmal and entirely unsustainable.


The Solution:


By implementing the Karma System on Laughing Skull, we’re addressing that social problem. Here’s how:


  1. Opportunity to Socialize


By introducing the Karma System, social players have a group to belong to that isn’t immediately hostile. This means two Protectors who meet in the world can walk up to each other, chat, group, and quest together, while being reasonably certain their new friend won’t stab them in the back. We’ve seen it happen with Outlaws, too.


  1. Built-in Trust


For Protectors in particular, the Karma System introduces an element of Built-in Trust: Protectors have green names to each other, which immediately lends itself to friendly interaction. Not only that, but Protectors by their nature hunt Outlaws and avoid slaying other Protectors: that’s how they rise in reputation. What that means is, on average, you can count on a Protector to protect their faction, which means they’re usually safe to approach. Which means if you see one out in the world, and you’re a Protector yourself, you’re probably pretty safe to go and say hello.


  1. Us vs. Them Dynamic


Finally, the very nature of Protectors being targets for Outlaws prompts Protectors to group together--lest they become the victim of a skilled Outlaw. This in turn encourages Outlaws to band together to surmount the challenge of multiple Protectors, which then again encourages more Protectors to band together--which then encourages more Outlaws. We saw this snowball effect play out on Ravenholdt multiple times, with large groups of both Outlaws and Protectors roaming the countryside, aiding members of their own faction, and destroying members of the opposite. This dynamic is what we’re looking to bring to Laughing Skull--a sense of community, social interaction, and a feeling of “We’d better band together, because there are people out there who are ALREADY banded together who will take us down if we don’t”.


The number one cause of players leaving Ascension is an empty friends list. The Karma System helps to encourage friendships, and overcome the social hurdles that Laughing Skull presents:



This data is comprised of only both new unique IPs and new accounts that have never been seen before.

Long-time ascension players have no impact on this data.



This data is comprised of only both new unique IPs and new accounts that have never been seen before.

Long-time ascension players have no impact on this data.


Now, none of this is to say that Season 1 didn’t have its problems: we really dropped the ball with the Staggered Level Cap, and we saw population drop about 50% with each new cap. Additionally, the bugs that were present on Ravenholdt were not addressed quickly enough, which was a another major reason population declined. However, the Karma System did its job: it brought players together, encouraged social interaction, and promoted group play.


The team used to believe that High-Risk’s dismal player retention rates were a result of the gear loss system--a result of players getting frustrated with losing gear and quitting. However, the data we’ve gathered over the last few months paints an entirely different picture:


The reason players quit Laughing Skull, very simply, is that they’re not making friends.


The crux of an MMO are the bonds and relationships players form--it’s the reason players choose this genre. The Karma System was built to encourage this incredibly important aspect of our game. We firmly believe that by bringing this system to Laughing Skull, we’re taking a huge step towards improving the population and building a healthier realm for both social and solo players.


Good luck out there, Heroes.


***Players, we want to make it clear that we ARE open to suggestions and feedback about the Karma System: we want it to work for those of you currently playing on Laughing Skull. We’re still waiting to implement the system until we fix its interactions with things such as Crow’s Cache. During this time, we’ll be gathering and listening to your feedback. However, without a system such as this, population on the realm will never thrive. High-Risk’s population simply can’t sustain itself without either (a) the Horde vs. Alliance dynamic, or (b) the Karma System.***




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NOTE: I had this typed up before I knew this forum post was going to be made. This is my opinion and i'm happy to debate it.



Karma/Outlaw System and Why it is good


The main complaint when asked, “What is wrong with the Karma system” is EVERYTHING, with no real answer to the question. Just a general hatred of a system because of 1 or 2 quirks. Even though, most the people who complain about the system, did not actually play for the entire season. People also believe having the Karma system discourages world PvP but it actually makes it more rewarding and “high-risk” like. During my time playing on the seasonal, I saw more world PvP while leveling and while at cap, than I saw on LS. Non-Outlaws would go out into the world to do their daily quests or farm for gear, with a lesser concern since only Opposite Faction and Outlaws could attack them, instead of FFA. This allowed many players to form groups while out in the world by just running across another player, instead of out right attacking them. Though you would occasional be attacked, or attack an Outlaw when encountered. So being a outlaw became a challenge for most, including myself. Everyone would try to kill you, even other outlaws. However, the challenge was welcoming. Though losing 3 pieces of gear as a outlaw was not enjoyable and I do think needs to be set back to 2.


One of the more common complaints is that Outlaws are required to be in Goblin cities, mainly Booty Bay. I can see where this may of been a issue to begin with, but as the server progressed and was tested more and more, Booty Bay became my favorite city even when I wasn’t Outlaw at times. There was easy access to both Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms from a easy boat ride or just flight path out, and when the Drop In Teleport machine was added, it was even easier to get around for dailies and farming. Every class trainer was added and PvP vendors as well. Some may not of noticed, but as a Outlaw, you could use both the alliance and horde pvp vendors, allowing you to buy paladin gear as a horde, or shaman gear as a alliance. There was nothing in Booty Bay (other than 1v1 arena que and mount trainer) that was not also in a Major city, though you take the boat to Ratchet and train your mounts at the trainer there. While some may prefer to AFK in Org or SW, there was no significant difference in Booty Bay to a capital city.


Now some ways to improve the Outlaw experience for some may be to give it better incentives. While being a Non-Outlaw, as your rep went up, you gained a Buff that showed your prestige in slaying Outlaws. You would also gain access to quests and dailies that Outlaws could not do. I believe this could also be done for Outlaws in the same manner, not by rep, but by kills. Every time you killed a non-outlaw, you would be rewarded with a token or coin of some sort. This in return would be used similar to the War Effort Commendation Signets, and allow Outlaws to purchase gadgets or gear to assist them in hunting down players. Though this would need a timer of some sorts to stop players from killing their friends over and over. Another addition could be a Outlaw only way of transportation, such as outlaw only flight paths.

Edited by Kaladin
removed colored text

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First of all, thanks for posting this. Its great to see how active the staff has been on forums/discord lately. Now to my opinion on this matter: 

I am not a fan of the karma system, but I am not completely against it either. I think it was a complete mess on seasonal and you scared away a lot of players due to the game being almost unplayable the first 2 lvl caps. I do however see the positives, and I do think that once the systems on on seasonal started working as intended, the experience of them improved drastically. 

Why im still sceptic about the karma system being implemented though, is due to certain aspects of the system that are a major problem for the server.

- 3 drops as outlaw is NOT needed. People already stay in cities all day from losing 2. This does not give ppl incentive to go out in the world. It encourages using shit gear even more coz the cost of dying is a 50% increasement from before.

- Booty Bay is still missing vendors and NPCs. Add a 1v1 vendor and a way to buy tabard/shirt as they basicly work as free felcoms and are a must when wPvPing.

- Players attack you all the damn time in BB and get away with it easily. They jump in water and reset the guards. Also if a player attacks you there, the guards will help them kill you even when you dont fight back.

- 1v1 arena is heavily bugged due to the karma system. 90% of the time its unplayable and your opponent is friendly to you.

- Community will be split further

- WoW was never build with karma system in mind. Its requires a huuuge effort to make it an enjoyable smooth experience, and while I admire you for trying, its undeniable that this system will create many many problems over time and already has. High-risk is already a big mouth-full to chew from a developer standpoint and putting another level of complexity on top of that will result in a lot of frustration for players

I’ll be updating this list over time, feel free to add to it if you want to tell devs what needs to be done (or not done) to make this as good of an experience as possible when karma system is introduced to LS.

Add dailies with the karma system for gods sake. It created wpvp and gave incentive to go out in the world. I see 0 reason NOT to add it. Why have you not been mentioning it AT ALL, and why do you avoid talking about one of the most liked features that came with seasonal?

I also think blaming social interaction as the sole reason for players leaving is very wrong. You need to take a look at your respec costs, orb costs for REs and the economy on LS in general. If you die on LS you can basicly lose 1-2 hours of orb farming (when eles are up) from ONE death. REs need to be easily accessible, not locked behind a huge grind. And if eles arent up, you might aswell just log off as it is, if you lost gear and dont have orbs to put REs back on it.

REs are awesome, but its just another wall to climb for new players.


Edited by Beastly

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3 minutes ago, Beastly said:


Add dailies with the karma system for gods sake. It created wpvp and gave incentive to go out in the world. I see 0 reason NOT to add it. Why have you not been mentioning it AT ALL, and why do you avoid talking about the most like features that came with seasonal?


Dailies will be coming to LS and Andorhal most likely. I want to expand the 60 dailies and create more high-volume zones similar to STV. I would like to keep this post focused on Karma though. Daily discussion should be moved to its own post.

Edited by Kaladin

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18 hours ago, Frostbolt/Rank1#LS said:

I mean these numbers are kinda weird, especially when you compare a month on LS to Raven a brand new fresh server. 

The statistics we were displaying here are based on the first month of Laughing Skull juxtaposed to the first month of Ravenholdt.  The vast majority of players we see quit, are quitting well before any of the other issues mentioned in the replies I've read so far. That isn't to say those aren't real issues, but the silent majority of players quit well before they ever need to worry about REs, 1v1, Vendors, or Reset costs.


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