[NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons

As part of condensing most of the gameplay lore, the rushed introduction of the one mag we get (essentially "everyone has one, yours is better somehow, don't question it") glazes over them as a communication macguffin and later gives them an extremely temporary sonar ability to find cocoons and towers. Beyond that all they really do is float near you and show an amusing visual when you open the menu.

There's more that can be done here. Mags have been decoupled from combat in classic PSO2 which makes a lot of sense since raising them was essentially a non-choice to get 200 of whichever attack stat your class used and from Braver onwards there were invariably skills to either combine attack stats or use DEX as the attack stat anyway.

So, why not go all in on making them exploration aids? Presently mags are used to find cocoons and towers with a subsequently obsolete sonar, and have no mechanical relation to region mags. There's mileage to build on these aspects, and create an element of progression that would provide an easy-to-develop gameplay loop to earn non-essential enhancements of convenience to exploration and gathering.

For example, instead of simply stuffing items into a mag for a few weeks until they hit level 200 why not have a hybrid levelling system that combines resource feeding (for the PSO & PSO2 mag experience) with tasks that need repeating? One example setup:


Item feeding

See PSO and classic PSO2; 3 items every ~45 minutes. Uses resources (adding an item sink to the game) and raises a singular EXP bar (eliminates a non-choice of which stats to raise). Rarer resources give more EXP than common ones, and the higher the Mag's Food Level the more EXP is needed per level. Mags have 50 Food Levels; each level adds 3 units to the range of sonar abilities (see below) and +0.1 to Mag Boost Level everywhere.

Maybe add a slow decline in Food Level over an extended time? There are positives (continued item sink) and negatives (it'd become a chore) to this. Perhaps it should be based on gameplay; provide a grace period of 7 days before Food Level starts decreasing, and completing tasks or killing enemies resets the grace period, so regular gameplay prevents decreases.

Cocoon activation

Clearing a cocoon (including the initial clear for SP) activates it for that player for 7 days. After the initial clear (with the designed layout, to make it fair to gain SP), cocoons start randomising their layout each attempt. After 7 days, a cocoon becomes deactivated and the player needs to clear it again. The rating (up to 5 stars) is also reset each deactivation.

The highest rating level for a cocoon after its most recent activation contributes toward a Cocoon Level for that region. Aelio has 8 cocoons with 40 stars total; every stars gives +0.125 Mag Boost Level in Aelio. So for example if a player has 5 stars in five Aelio cocoons and 3 stars in the other three, they would have 32 stars in total which is +4.25 Mag Boost Level in Aelio.

Mag Boost Level

Add together the boosts provided by Food Level (everywhere) and from active cocoons to get a total Mag Boost Level. Since each boost provides up to +5, the highest Mag Boost Level is +10. Mag Boost Level always rounds down, so a player must have 50 Food Levels and all cocoons in in a region activated at 5 stars to get Mag Boost Level 10.

Each Mag Boost Level provides a unique ability that makes exploration and resource gathering more convenient. There's a lot of scope for how this could work, so the below is strictly a serving suggestion that has a ton of potential to be adjusted:

  • Level 1: Auto-loot nearby fruit, vegetables and seafood.
  • Level 2: Sonar can find minerals (Monotite-Trinite, Photon Quartz and Chunk) up to 150 units away (Can be disabled in Mag menu).
  • Level 3: Ability to teleport directly to Region Mags.
  • Level 4: Auto-loot nearby Item Container: Green and Item Container: Gold.
  • Level 5: Sonar can find Alpha Reactors up to 150 units away (in exchange for making their location different per player).
  • Level 6: Extend Region Mag Personal Boost to 3 hours.
  • Level 7: Mag laser auto-attacks nearby minerals and TAMES.
  • Level 8: Doubles sonar range (including Food Level boosts). When entering an exploration sector, get a display like "0/2 Alpha Reactors collected".
  • Level 9: Ability to remotely feed Region Mags.
  • Level 10: Auto-loot nearby minerals.

I really like the idea of giving our Mags some kind of functionality beyond what is currently available and finding ways to incentivize replaying Cocoons and Towers. However, there are a couple of points with your proposed example that I think would hurt the enjoyability of this.

First, I don't like the idea of punishing players for forgetting to feed their Mag or not feeling like re-running every cocoon each week by revoking functions they might have previously earned. Instead I think just having the functions unlock as you level up your Mag and incentivize continued feeding of your Mag by having it provide a small buff to the player while it is full is a better idea. This would even makes sense in world, since Region Mags already give out buffs when fed why wouldn't our smaller personal versions have a scaled down version of that function. It also adds in the potential to have some customizability to Mags by having multiple buffs available and letting players choose which one they want their Mag to have and having the buffs grow slightly as their Mag levels up.

Second, for Cocoon and Tower replay incentives, instead of tying them to the Mag system I think it would be simpler to just have them offer a small reward for being replayed. A few thousand N-Mesata and some Ael Note Capsules from their corresponding area seems fair. The reward could even be tied to how well you do. Something like: just finishing gets you 1000 N-Meseta, completing 1 side mission 1500 N-Meseta, 2 side missions 2000 N-Meseta and 2 Ael Note Capsule, all side missions 2500 N-Meseta and 5 Ael Note Capsules. If they think this seems like it might affect the economy by making N-Meseta too easy to farm just make them a once daily or once weekly reward. I also feel like the Cocoons and Towers seem like the perfect fit for something like the Time Trial Weekly Rankings from Classic PSO2. Having that would also give NGS a weekly Star Gem source, something that it is currently missing compared Classic PSO2.

Third, I also like your idea of random layouts for Cocoons, but I don't think it should completely replace the standard pre-determined layout. Some of the Cocoons are really good ways to practice the new movement mechanics and I don't think that would be as true for randomly generated ones. Having random layouts as a separate Challenge Mode that you choose to enter when you start the Cocoon would work out better in my opinion. Then they could either offer higher rewards for Challenge Mode or just make Challenge Mode the only source of rewards.

Like I said at the start I really like a lot of the ideas here, so I don't want this post to just come off as me picking apart your example. Either way I think some systems like what you are proposing are needed in the game currently and just wanted to offer my own opinion on how they could be implemented.

I feel like I need to clarify a few of the things you dislike:


@shimrion-0 said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

I don't like the idea of punishing players for forgetting to feed their Mag

I wasn't suggesting that. The potential slow decline would be for not playing at all. The example I gave was completing tasks or killing a few enemies would completely reset the period before cooldown. Perhaps even logging in could be sufficient.

The only way for it to decline at all would be to stop playing for an extended time - and I envision even then it'd be a slow decline, e.g. if 41-50 took 500 points per level and a typical food item provides 50 points, maybe it's 100-200 points decline per day so not playing for two weeks would mean an overall decline of 700-1400 points (so they'd drop to Food Level 48 or 49) that could be recovered in 3-7 hours of feeding.

My thoughts behind this were to give returning players after an absence a little more activity to do without it feeling like an ordal, to give regular players a little extra feeling of benefit to their regular play, and to slightly make the mag feeding process feel less like a pointless one-and-done setup as it was in PSO2. If these aren't that useful the idea of a slow decline could always just be scrapped so the food process could just enable unlocking up to Mag Boost Level 5 permanently with the cocoon part taking on the role of upkeep and a gameplay loop.


@shimrion-0 said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

or not feeling like re-running every cocoon each week by revoking functions they might have previously earned

This is hardly a new aspect of these games. We have to deal enough damage to access every Photon Blast we use. Gunners have to get a 100 Chain Trigger finish every 45 seconds they want to get their self-revoking attack speed increase. We have to collect more meseta every time we want to buy something, or minerals every time we want to unlock a potential or limit break, or gather more food items every time we want to use food buffs. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with unlocking temporary benefits.

My thoughts behind associating cocoons to mag capabilities is that mags were already associated with cocoons in the game's lore; finding them is virtually all the sonar does. Unlocking more functions and capabilities of the sonar through cocoons felt like a good way to retain that theming.

Lastly I wouldn't consider the revocation of losing a Mag Boost Level to be that consequential. Everything in my suggested list is a convenience measure to expedite things players can already do. Run up to a mineral and the mag unexpectedly doesn't auto-loot it anymore because it dropped to level 9? Just hit it a few times like we can now, no real loss. I'm not suggesting this be a requirement to avoid a 5% damage loss in a DPS check UQ or anything critical like that.


@shimrion-0 said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

Something like [snip] all side missions 2500 N-Meseta and 5 Ael Note Capsules. If they think this seems like it might affect the economy by making N-Meseta too easy to farm just make them a once daily or once weekly reward.

Yeah... 2500 meseta and 5 Ael Notes every 50 seconds from the Bujin cocoon would be OP as all heck. That'd need to be very carefully managed or just made into a weekly reward, ideally with corresponding reductions to weekly tasks because otherwise that'd definitively increase overall money supply in the game and cause inflation.


@shimrion-0 said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

I also feel like the Cocoons and Towers seem like the perfect fit for something like the Time Trial Weekly Rankings from Classic PSO2. Having that would also give NGS a weekly Star Gem source, something that it is currently missing compared Classic PSO2.

Hard disagree I'm afraid. I want varied repeatable cocoons to be a fun gameplay loop for everyone, not just the same top 5 tryhards on each ship every week and completely pointless for everyone else forever.


@shimrion-0 said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

I also like your idea of random layouts for Cocoons, but I don't think it should completely replace the standard pre-determined layout.

The original post said the original layouts should be kept for the first clear. Otherwise randomised layouts might cause players difficulty unlocking SP and that wouldn't be fair. Perhaps after that players could still optionally play the original layouts if they wanted to but for some cocoons like Runway it would obsolete all randomisation because people would just memorise the fixed layout and run that every week.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

I wasn't suggesting that. The potential slow decline would be for not playing at all. The example I gave was completing tasks or killing a few enemies would completely reset the period before cooldown. Perhaps even logging in could be sufficient.

I understood that, I guess I glossed over it in my reply because it doesn't affect my overall opinion. Everything you proposed adding to Mags is a quality of life feature, and I agree that is the best way to go with additions to Mags since Sega seems to want to decouple them from combat. In my mind quality of life features should either just be available from the start once implemented or unlocked once and kept forever afterwards. It doesn't matter how long of an inactivity period it takes to lose them, it still doesn't sit right with me.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

My thoughts behind this were to give returning players after an absence a little more activity to do without it feeling like an ordal, to give regular players a little extra feeling of benefit to their regular play, and to slightly make the mag feeding process feel less like a pointless one-and-done setup as it was in PSO2. If these aren't that useful the idea of a slow decline could always just be scrapped so the food process could just enable unlocking up to Mag Boost Level 5 permanently with the cocoon part taking on the role of upkeep and a gameplay loop.

That is a good goal, but it only works for players that are inactive for short bursts. I've got a friend that hasn't played since the first week of the 9th Anniversary event and probably won't play again until the new area is added sometime in the winter. This will be a 5 and half month gap if the update comes out as soon as it possibly can this winter otherwise even longer. Using your example numbers of 50 points per food item, 100 points lost per day, and 500 points per level would be over 16000 points lost, or 32 levels lost if you don't have lower levels require less points, and 80 hours to regain it all if they are perfect about feeding their mag. If you follow the system I assume you are implying by saying 41 to 50 would be 500 points per level and have it start at 100 points for levels 1 to 10 and increase the requirements by 100 points every 10 levels, Then they would actually drop back down to 0. That will feel like an ordeal.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

This is hardly a new aspect of these games. We have to deal enough damage to access every Photon Blast we use. Gunners have to get a 100 Chain Trigger finish every 45 seconds they want to get their self-revoking attack speed increase. We have to collect more meseta every time we want to buy something, or minerals every time we want to unlock a potential or limit break, or gather more food items every time we want to use food buffs. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with unlocking temporary benefits.

I don't think those examples are comparable to what you are proposing. Those are all examples of interacting with the core game mechanics that feed back into the same mechanics, you deal enough damage to use your Photon Blast which deals more damage, or you hit enemies to grow your Chain Trigger which increases how fast you hit enemies. Your idea is asking for quality of life features to require weekly participation in a side mode. A more comparable example would be if Classic PSO2 locked auto-loot behind having to do 3 Buster Quest runs each week. Yeah, Using Buster Quests as an example is an extreme since almost everyone hates them and I'm sure there isn't nearly as much dislike of the Cocoons, but there are guarantied to still be people that dislike Cocoons that will be hindered by this system.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

My thoughts behind associating cocoons to mag capabilities is that mags were already associated with cocoons in the game's lore; finding them is virtually all the sonar does. Unlocking more functions and capabilities of the sonar through cocoons felt like a good way to retain that theming.

I never saw Mags as being inherently associated with cocoons. I saw it as your Mag has a sonar to find important stuff, and cocoons are one of the things deemed important enough to ping it. It also pings off of Ryker Devices and maybe Region Mags.(I don't actually remember if Region Mags active the sonar or not, if they don't they should) Just a difference in opinion I guess.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

Lastly I wouldn't consider the revocation of losing a Mag Boost Level to be that consequential. Everything in my suggested list is a convenience measure to expedite things players can already do. Run up to a mineral and the mag unexpectedly doesn't auto-loot it anymore because it dropped to level 9? Just hit it a few times like we can now, no real loss. I'm not suggesting this be a requirement to avoid a 5% damage loss in a DPS check UQ or anything critical like that.

I disagree with how consequential you think these features would be. Quality of life features are extremely important to people, just look at the ruckus that got raised over Nintendo locking one behind an amiibo in Skyward Sword HD.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

Hard disagree I'm afraid. I want varied repeatable cocoons to be a fun gameplay loop for everyone, not just the same top 5 tryhards on each ship every week and completely pointless for everyone else forever.

I considered that, which is why I had the section about the Cocoons themselves rewarding you first and had the part about Weekly Rankings as more of an after thought. Even then they don't have to follow the Weekly Ranking system from Classic PSO2 exactly. Maybe everyone that even completes the Cocoon for that week's Weekly Ranking gets some amount of Star Gems and the ones that place just get more. My main thought behind it was that there are currently tons of repeatable weekly ways to earn Star Gems in Classic PSO2 and exactly none in NGS.

@Miraglyth said in [NGS] Mag progression, mag abilities and renewing cocoons:

The original post said the original layouts should be kept for the first clear. Otherwise randomised layouts might cause players difficulty unlocking SP and that wouldn't be fair. Perhaps after that players could still optionally play the original layouts if they wanted to but for some cocoons like Runway it would obsolete all randomisation because people would just memorise the fixed layout and run that every week.

Yeah I got that you wanted to keep the original layout for the first clear, but I guess I didn't word my post properly in that I think the original layout should always be available. Like the Cocoon with the jumping puzzle that only gives you 5 photon glides for one of the side missions. I ran that one multiple times to practice jumping and photon gliding, or the very first tutorial Cocoon I ran a couple of times to figure out wall jumping and to decide if I wanted it to be set to automatic or manual. I came to the same conclusion over all though I just had the randomized layout as the side option instead of the original layout, I even said that only rewarding the randomized mode was an option they could take.