For the next part of my feedback, I’m going to cover currencies, resources, and the shop. This post is structured with the issues first, then solutions for these issues at the end.
The game just has too many different currencies. I count 13 currencies, not including all of the different item-based ones such as runes (gold, gems, crowns, medals, food, ore, seasonal currency, ancient coins, and the 5 different types of marks). It’s confusing and overwhelming when you first start the game to figure out what all of them are, what they do, and how to get them.
Several of these currencies are also redundant. For example, diamonds and crowns both serve as premium currencies for the game (a currency that is harder to get that can be bought with real money). Real money overlaps with crowns as well, because players can only buy crowns with real money, which makes buying things for crowns like buying things for cash, but with an extra step in-between. The idea of having a premium currency that is the equivalent of money can be good in some ways (easier to offer discounts, having to deal with conversion rates less, etc.) but in-game items are offered for purchases directly too, which negates the benefits of having crowns and makes their existence confusing.
After players level their followers to the max, food is useless. This has been acknowledged as a problem, so hopefully it will change eventually, but it remains an issue currently.
In the beginning of the game, it’s hard to get enough gold to keep up with all of the necessary purchases. Once players unlock the merchant follower, this problem goes away due to her large gold multiplier, but until then, gold is a major roadblock in progression. I often found myself unable to upgrade my gear not due to a lack of resources, but due to a lack of gold.
Keys also cost more to purchase than the chest the corresponding rarity of chest give in gold. In fact, the amount chests give is so low (only around 150 gold from gold chests for example) that players can earn over 6 times the amount of gold (around 1,000 gold) from a single dungeon run. This is just sad. And feels unrewarding.
The various colors of runes, especially epic runes, are very hard to hunt down. Almost all players get stuck in upgrading their gear at the point that they need epic runes. This is an even bigger issue due to the way the game pushes players to have a mono color or bi color gearset; players then need one or two colors of runes for their entire gear set (at 4 runes per upgrade and 12 gear slots, that’s 48 runes of a single color). There isn’t an easy way to attempt to get a particular color of rune, so players are stuck unable to upgrade their gear for a very long and frustrating amount of time
Also, it’s worth noting that the Runes problem has received extensive discussion already, so it’s clearly a big issue with players.
In theory, relics are meant to be gained from salvaging gear. In practice, that doesn’t happen. I’ve gotten only a single relic from salvaging gear since I’ve started playing. Recently, a player from my Kingdom salvaged over 350 items without receiving a single relic (1, 2). This not only makes salvaging disappointing, but makes relics very hard to get.
Eveline is a way to get relics, but at higher tiers, her prices are restrictively expensive. She costs follower crystals (which I’ve ranted about being terrible design in my post about followers), even to exchange a relic for a relic of the same tier. And for new ones, it costs multiple of the lower tier relic (which are still very hard to get), follower crystals, and gems, a premium currency. In fact, it’s common advice among players to not evolve Eveline past Legendary because her higher tier abilities are useless because of the cost.
All of this amounts to relics being extremely scarce.
Sibelios, one of the most prominent members of the community, said that right now, mark farming is the worst grind in the game. Currently, marks can only be gotten from Events (where it’s random which rarity of marks you get) and Quest Pass. With only an 8% chance to get 5-8 diamond marks per battle, and Glyphs taking 80 diamond marks, it can be weeks before a player has enough marks to purchase a single glyph.
I know some players have complained about having too much ore, but my experience has been the opposite. All of the followers require ore to do anything, but only one of them gives ore, so I’m always running out and having to leave my followers inactive. It doesn’t feel very good to have to not use my followers, especially after investing so much into them.
There are several other currencies that are hard to get too (seasonal currency, ancient coins, and relics for example) but the above examples are enough to prove my point.
Gear, Minions, and Spells, take 6 different types of resources to level: shards and gold for the levels themselves and runes, relics, scroll, and glyphs for evolution. If you break shards down further into their various types, and count elemental runes as their own category (which they’re close enough to being), then you get 9 different types of resources required for leveling. This is just way too many different types.
In fact, why do relics even exist? Aren’t runes, scrolls, and glyphs enough of an evolution currency? Why did there need to be yet another? And why do runes need to be further divided up into elements instead of just following the pattern that the uncommon and rare runes started and having uncommon, rare, epic, and mythic runes with no elements?
Having so many different types of resources causes unnecessary confusion, makes it harder for the player to get the evolution materials they need, and makes it more likely the player will have too much of one resource and not enough of another.
Gear, Minions, and Spells Share The Same Evolution Materials, Causing Players to Not Have Enough For All of Them
Despite all of the different types of resources, Gear, Minions, and Spells all require the same ones to evolve. This forces the player to choose between them, instead of being able to evolve them all. And Gear is currently the most useful to evolve, so Spells and Minions are currently getting left behind. The current system prevents even player progression.
The daily login reward is almost useless currently. Wooden chests are very little use, and iron chests are only minimally more valuable. 10 gems is at least a bit useful, but is very low. This means logging in each day isn’t rewarding, and it contributes to the players’ lack of resources.
The VIP rewards are only minimally better. Again, wooden and iron keys are almost useless. Gold keys are still pretty common, and for $14 a month, players really should be getting a ruby or diamond key a day. Skirmish tickets are an okay reward, but skirmish chests are far worse than dungeon or regular chests. The rewards that change based on how many days the player has VIP usually give useless things like 5 minor shards and food. Even after over 150 days of having VIP. The dungeon ticket and the gems are really the only valuable rewards that VIP status gives (and 25 more gems is a bit better, but still kinda low considering players are paying $14).
I know it’s always tricky deciding what to make purchasable and what not to. Developers have to walk the line of getting players to want to buy things, but not frustrate them to the point where they feel stuck or taken advantage of and want to quit. Unfortunately, I feel that Puzzle Quest hasn’t managed to achieve this balance yet.
There are just too many things locked behind premium currencies or VIP status.
A good example is the shop. There are two layers of paywalls in the shop: vip purchases, and then crowns. In fact, for vip items only purchasable with crowns, players are paying twice for the same item. The daily offers often fill up with crown or gem offers, preventing players from buying anything and causing their gold to pile up. With only 8 purchase slots, and two of them locked to VIP, and all of them having a chance to be crowns or gems instead of gold, players can often run into the situation where the entire shop except 1 slot is filled with premium currency purchases. For example, look at the shop below:
It has 1 gold purchase (which I bought) 3 gem purchase (premium currency that it isn’t worth buying shards with) 3 crown purchases, and two gold purchases that are locked behind VIP. I had only 1 item I could buy out of 8. This is a major problem.
This is also a problem in the Guild shop, and can lead to guilds being unable to make enough purchases to maintain their rank. My leader often has to ask us to make small gem purchases in order for us to meet our purchase goals, as there simply aren’t enough gold purchases in the shop. This shouldn’t be necessary, and is the result of a poor shop design. Also, locking things behind VIP for a community feature means that there could be some ugly situations where guilds require members to have VIP so they can get the max use out of the shop. It’s just fortunate that most PQ players are friendly and not too competitive, which has prevented that from happening so far.
It’s also disappointing that a chest slot is locked to VIP, as chest slots are important, especially to newer players. I’ve played through the beginning of the game with and without VIP, and that extra chest slot makes a major difference. Without it, it feels like there aren’t enough slots and the restrictiveness can get frustrating. With it, the chest system feels a lot less restrictive and players can afford to have one slot locked up opening a diamond chest while still having enough slots free to get some good gear from less time-heavy chests. And gear is a major part of the game, so it’s disappointing some gear is steam purchase-exclusive, and that no other gear in the game has similar effects.
The piggy bank is a cool feature that adds value to events, so it’s sad that the only way to get full use out of it is to buy a season pass. Events would be more fun if everyone had access to the full features of the piggy bank, such as collection.
##The Shop Is Hard to Use
The shop’s UI is… not great. It requires so much scrolling to get to various items in the shop. To get to the last item in a tab requires at least 5 swipes. Which can really add up. Ideally, a player shouldn’t have to do any swiping at all to navigate around.
Premium offers are mixed in with regular ones, which is worse for both players who want to pay and players who don’t. Paying players have no clear indication of what they can buy and where to go to buy it. They have to navigate through a whole bunch of different tabs to see what is best to spend their crowns on. Non-paying players have to deal with seeing things they don’t care about cluttering up their menus and getting in the way of them making gold purchases. Neither party wins. And the devs want players to be able to make purchases easily so they make them more often, so they don’t win either.
Also, daily deals are handled poorly. Daily offers are scattered throughout various shop locations, making it hard to see and buy them. And some deals change based on the day, with different ones being offered on different days of the week, but there’s no indication of this anywhere. Players have to always check every single shop tab and scroll to the end to be sure they aren’t missing out.
Instead of focusing on exclusivity as a way to make money, focus instead on earning money through providing players with ways to speed things up or skip grinding, or on cosmetics. Making things in games only available through purchases alienates multiple categories of gamers: those who like to collect everything in video games (which make up quite a large percentage of gamers), those who are against in-app purchases and/or pay to win mechanics, and those who don’t earn enough money to spend on video games. The suggested alternate approach allows players with lots of money to have a place to spend it on, while retaining the above players and preventing players with less money from feeling frustrated and at a disadvantage compared to high paying players. This approach earns less short-term, but more over time due to a higher player retention rate and more players spending money.
Also, make purchases available at all price ranges, with many options for cheap. Most players can afford to spend a bit of money, and they’re more likely to make purchases if there is something they can afford to buy easily. Many small purchases add up over time. Current purchase prices (especially the recent ones for t4 relics) are rather ridiculous.
Be generous with your players. Don’t try to frustrate them into making purchases. Give them lots of resources and make sure progression is at a normal pace. Studies have shown that generosity inspires generosity, so you’ll find that if you’re generous to players, players will be generous back. Also, people are more likely to keep doing something if it is rewarding, and linking generosity and good feelings to the game will inspire more purchases.
Get rid of crowns. This solves the problem of crowns’ redundancy and reduces the number of currencies, which in turn will reduce player confusion. Split their function between gems and real money. Gems should function as the harder-to-get currency that players save up and use for large rewards. Gold should be the main currency of the game that is used for almost everything. If it’s important that something be a money-only purchase (there should be very few of those however), then the price should be in real money.
Make all daily deals cost gold and not ever gems or crowns. (Have a separate section for daily gem offers if necessary.) This will improve player experience drastically by making the game less freemium and giving them a good way to spend their gold. There are still plenty of ways for players to spend money, so the scattered deals in the shop aren’t necessary. They have more negatives in the experience they provide for players than they do in the very few crown purchases that they inspire people to make.
It’s just too restrictive to have 2 slots locked up in VIP when there are only eight total. If there needs to be an additional section of the shop with VIP only purchases, that’s okay. But the 8 daily slots shouldn’t require VIP.
Ideally, it would be nice if there was no VIP requirement for chests. Having 1 chest slot locked into VIP creates too much of a gap between paying and non-paying players. However, as an alternative, it would be nice if players were given a month of free VIP when they start the game. This has the benefit of helping get players over the hump of when that chest slot matters the most, and it shows them how nice having a VIP membership can be. I’d bet that many players who wouldn’t get VIP otherwise would get used to having it and want to buy it afterwards. So players would win, and the devs would win as well.
I know this is a bit of a vain hope that any major changes will be made to relics, but still: a major change was made when they were added to the game, so perhaps another major change can be made to them. Players are far more accepting of major changes than might be expected as long as the changes improve things they are frustrated with and they receive adequate compensation for any difficulties the changes might cause them.
Ideally, I wish that relics could be removed, with players receiving an appropriate amount of gems or the evolution material that replaces them (such as runes or glyphs (which I will talk about below)). I know that’s unlikely to happen, so I think instead that they should be repurposed. Perhaps they can be used to change the element of gear from the series they correspond with, or reroll the attributes for them. That would make relics continue to be extremely valuable to players, while allowing evolution to be changed to a simpler system.
Add different rarities of Glyphs (Uncommon to Mythic), with them still being divided up by type (so Lesser Weapon Glyph, Lessor Armor Glyph, etc.). Lesser rarity Glyphs cas have less fancy wings (ones with less segments) to distinguish them visually. Use these as the sole evolution material for weapons, armor, and accessories (no relics required, as described above, or runes). Remove Spell and Minion Glyphs.
Have Scrolls be the sole evolution material for Spells. There are currently Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Rare, and Mystic Scrolls, so there are enough for every evolution tier. Scrolls also fit spells very well thematically.
Simplify Runes so that they are just divided by rarity (like the Uncommon and Rare ones are) and not by element. This would solve a lot of the issues with obtaining them. (Give players the same amount of the new, single runes they had spread across all the elements as compensation. For example, if the player has 4 Epic fire runes, 2 Epic poison runes, 0 Epic ice runes, 9 Epic light runes, and 1 Epic dark rune, give the player 16 Epic runes.) Use Runes as the sole evolution material for minions. (This doesn’t fit them too well thematically, but neither does their current evolution materials, they’re what’s left of the current evolution materials present in the game. Also, Glyphs fit Gear better because they’re already divided up into the different categories of gear.)
These changes would simplify the evolution currencies a lot, making it easier for players to know which ones to aim for and easier for them to obtain the ones they want. At the same time, it would keep the system fun and a bit challenging.
Remove Ore and Food From Chests, and Either Have Them Generated Solely by Followers (More Than One) or Remove Them From the Game Entirely
I discussed this in detail in my Followers post, but this would improve chest drops drastically just by having them not be able to drop something disappointing and leaving more of a percentage for the chests to drop something useful. This would help the players be able to get things they actually want and need (gear, shards, and evolutions materials) more easily.
The amount of gold that chests give should be far more than a single dungeon run can give. And definitely more than the cost for a key to open them at minimum. A solution would be to have the amount of gold be modified by the level of the chest. So higher level chests would give more gold. Also, to drastically improve the base amount of gold chests give.
Don’t require gold to evolve Followers. The change where gear, spells, and minions don’t require gold to evolve is very nice and helps with gold costs a lot. So applying the same change to Followers will help with gold costs even more.
Also, follower already cost ore and time to craft, so it would be more affordable to craft and help with gold costs if the gold cost was removed from crafting (so that it just requires time and ore to craft)
I already discussed this in detail in my Followers post, but giving it at least a brief mention here. I believe that Bree would be a good choice for this.
Again, this is discussed in detail in my Followers post, but I believe a modification to the salvaging system where salvaging gives fragments that can be crafted into objects would help a lot with the resources problem, and make salvaging a lot more fun and useful.
Ideally, it would be nice to have some sort of login calendar, where players earn increasing rewards the more days they log in for. Many other games do this, and it makes logging into them feel much more rewarding than logging into this one does. At minimum though, the rewards for logging in each day should be drastically improved. I think each player should get 2 Gold Keys and 1-2 Ruby keys for logging in (this isn’t too big of a reward still, because these aren’t as good as they seem. A good key doesn’t automatically mean a good reward, because even after, the rng can still make the chest have a crappy reward). They should also get 3 Dungeon Tickets every day. (Honestly, not having the ability to instant clear dungeons is one of the areas where this game feels lacking. Being able to at least have one or two instant clears a day when players want to stock up on chests but don’t have much free time would be very nice.) Skirmish Tickets are kinda useless at the moment in my opinion, as I find chests from them to not be that great, but I suppose it would be good to include some of those in the daily rewards too. It should give slightly more gems as well (25, hopefully, but even 15 would be an improvement). And the reward should give some gold too. If the reward included all of these, then it would feel like an actual reward, while still not making the player overpowered (it seems like a big improvement, but that’s only because the current reward is so lacking).
VIP players should get diamond and ruby keys every day instead of gold and ruby ones, more dungeon and skirmish tickets than non-playing players, more gems (50 for logging in every day), and more gold. The rewards for having vip for a certain number of days should be completely revamped to give much better rewards.
Make the Piggy Bank Passively Generate Seasonal Currency (or at least Ancient Coins). Allow All Players to Withdraw From the Piggy Bank And GIve VIP Players a Different Benefit, Such as Double Earnings. Move it to a More Visible Location.
The Piggy Bank has the glimmers of a great feature, as rewarding players for each battle they complete in a season is a cool idea, but right now has issues that keep it from being great. For one, there are no hints it even exists (I personally wasn’t aware of it at all for most of the first Season I participated in). And, non-players have no reason to interact with it or even really take notice of its existence, as they can’t use the collect feature. Also, the rewards are nice, but kinda small (mostly because of the low caps).
To fix these issues, I would move the piggy bank to somewhere more visible, and have a tutorial pointing it out to players the first time they start an event. Or at least just include the tutorial.
I would also have the piggy bank generate seasonal currency. That would automatically make it very valuable to players. Also, seasonal currency is currently rather hard to get (too much so in my opinion, especially with Follower crystals being another drain on seasonal currency) so having the Piggy Bank generate seasonal currency would be a good way to help fix this, while also making the Piggy Bank more useful.
I would let all players withdraw from the piggy bank freely (instead of requiring tokens). I would have the VIP benefit be the ability to earn rewards from the piggy bank at a 1.5x (gold pass) or 2x (platinum pass) rate instead. This would keep the seasonal passes valuable, as they would still give large bonuses, but would allow ordinary players to get some use out of the piggy bank too.
I think all of these changes would add a bit more excitement to season events through having the piggy bank be another cool and useful part of it. And it would help solve the issue with the lack of seasonal currency.
I have a post here with example images of how I would revamp the shop to make it easier to use and more useful.
So, those are the issues I see with Currencies, Resources, and the Shop, and my suggestions to solve these issues. Some of the changes I suggest are pretty drastic, but I believe they would be worth it to make, as they would also drastically reduce players’ frustration with the game and cause it to retain more players. Hopefully the devs are willing to use some of these suggestions, or are able to come up with some of their own that are equally good!