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Developer Diary: Epic Battles - Merit and Medals


Developer Diary: Epic Battles - Merit and Medals

By JWBarry
The story for Helm’s Deep is written, we know what’s going to happen. The Dike will be overrun, the Deeping Wall will explode, and the defenders will hunker within the Glittering Caves and the Hornburg until the morning when Gandalf will come and good will triumph over evil. That part is written and immutable. 
What is left to open space is a large degree of the state of the battle when these various major events happen. In the majority of our existing questing and instance content, success is a binary condition. You either win or lose, full stop. There is no measurement of your performance, how well or thoroughly you completed the objective, and what collateral damage you prevented (or inflicted) while doing it. There is no gray area. That’s where Merit comes in. 
How many soldiers survive the wall, how many banners were burnt down, how many injured Rohirrim survived a diversionary assault, how many rocks did you block the culvert with, were there any supplies left, did the horses survive, how many enemy traps or barricades did you disable, how many traps or barricades were your allies able to construct? 
All of these questions, and more, matter for various quests and objectives within Helm’s Deep. It’s not just about whether or not you completed something, it’s about all of the potential related things you do, or don’t do, while attempting to find success. If you defend the door to the Hornburg, but all of the injured Rohirrim in the room are killed, your reward is not as great as it would be had you protected them. Each quest within the Battle for Helm’s Deep utilizes merit. Upon completing it you’re given a medal based on your performance, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. There are many things that can influence merit on a quest, with a variety of options suitable for each of the three roles, leaving the options and choice up to the player of how to approach the objective and which areas of it to focus upon. However, in order to complete platinum, you’ll need to do nearly everything.  
Each quest has a starting amount of Merit: empty, partial or full. Your current merit is displayed as a bar in the Quest Tracker, showing the medal you’re currently set to earn, and progress towards the next tier up. 
The maximum amount of Merit you can have on a quest at any point is determined by how complete the objectives of that quest are. This is displayed as a percentage next to the quest name.
The actions that add or remove Merit are listed below the bar in red or green, with an indicator of how many times they’ve been triggered.
The difficulty of an objective is directly determined by how many of the merit points you wish to earn. The more soldiers you try to keep alive, the harder it will be, but the greater the reward if you succeed. Abandon a squad of them, and your job will be easier, but your reward will be less. The difficulty dynamically adjusts based on how much you wish to bite off at any given moment for any given objective.

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