At the beginning of the War for the Atlas expansion we released the Fire and Ice Mystery Box. Over the past few years, we've had many iterations of mystery boxes and over time we've developed and improved them to be what they are today. There are many small decisions that make up the whole of the box and we wanted to make a post that gives some insight into this development process.

The Chaos and Order Mystery Box was introduced alongside The Fall of Oriath expansion and was the most successful box up until that point. It's the first box we've introduced that had a split theme with all microtransactions adhering to either the Chaos or Order theme. We believe that this dual-theme approach contributed to some of the popularity of the box.

When we first began planning the mystery box that would follow this one, we wanted to emulate much of what worked with the Chaos and Order Mystery Box. This meant that at the very least, we wanted to do another dual-themed box.

In an unrelated conversation, we had discussed the possibility of creating an armour set that was split down the middle, so that it was half one thing and half another. Our concept artists developed the Fire and Ice Armour set. We went through a few iterations of the design before we found the one that we were most excited to release.

While we were looking for a dual-theme for the mystery box, we remembered that we already discussed the idea of split armour sets. One of the prominent ideas was that of a split Fire/Ice armour set. While we've already released an Infernal Mystery Box and a Winter Mystery box, these were some time ago and were available for only a short duration before many of our mystery box improvements were implemented. Fire and Ice are also popular microtransaction themes and there was certainly room to expand what was available for those themes in the store.

It naturally came together that the Fire and Ice Mystery Box would be a good fit for our next mystery box release. The next step was to figure out how to include the third armour set in the box.

The odds and values in the mystery box require a very delicate balance as throwing the numbers off can mean that the joy of the mystery box experience could be diminished. On the flip side, we need to be concerned about increasing the value too much as this can be painful if the value has to be reduced for the next box or financially detrimental if we stick to this value adjustment for future boxes. We try to put as much value as possible into the mystery boxes while keeping them at the small price of 30 points per box. They generally redeem for an average of around 110 points. Given the importance of all revenue sources for our development budget, it's really important that we plan compelling boxes while not undermining our regular sales.

The third armour set created a logistical issue of how to put it into the news post without destroying the split formatting we were using to clearly present each microtransaction and its rarity.

After much discussion, an idea emerged to make it so that you could combine fire and ice microtransactions into the split microtransactions. This served the dual-purpose of being both thematically-appropriate and an interesting and unexpected way to soak up duplicates from the box.

We were enthused about the idea and thought it best to keep it a secret at the initial launch of the box. We felt that the box represented great value even without mentioning the split microtransactions and that trying to communicate it might confuse the announcement. We were happy to leave it as a nice surprise for players who would discover that there was added value beyond what they initially open from the boxes. We were also curious to see what the reception to the combining technology would be, without us having hyped it up with marketing.

We were happy to see that the community enjoyed this new feature and so we're planning to do this again for our next mystery box. There is also the potential to use this for future microtransactions outside of the mystery boxes. As an example of how this might work, when Jonathan was creating this technology he initially combined the Brilliant Crown and Green Frog Pet to make the Royal Green Frog Pet.

Our next step was to plan the microtransactions that would accompany the Fire and Ice Armour Sets and some others that we could create split versions of. Once again, we looked to the Chaos and Order Mystery Boxes for the framework for this. It seems to work well to include two of the following microtransaction types: Wings, Armour Sets, Cloaks, Character Effects, Sword or Shield Skins, Weapon Effects, Portals, Large Pets, Small Helmet Attachments, Footprints, and Small Pets. Additionally, we also added two skill effects and three hideout decorations per theme.

When picking the design for these microtransactions types, we aim to create microtransactions that can be used by as many players as possible. For example, the trend lately has been to include movement skills and heralds in the mystery boxes as they are not bound to niche builds. Outside of making sure they can be used on a variety of characters, we then look to what niche to fill in the store. Sometimes it's clear that we have a shortage of some types of items. For the Fire and Ice Mystery Box, we chose shields instead of weapon skins as we wanted to create some more variety of these in the store.

The common items in the mystery box are typically the most tricky to design because when you purchase a great number of mystery boxes, you'll end up with quite a few from this category. In the past we have tried fireworks and extra stash tabs in this slot, for example. Hideout decorations have always worked well because their nature encourages the accumulation of duplicates. For the hideout decorations, we've experimented with a few different things to see what works. Some people love hideout decorations and others don't care for them. The key seems to be to create decorations that can create compelling elements in your hideout for minimal effort. This means that larger hideout decorations seem to work best.

For the Fire and Ice Mystery Box, we looked at the hideout decorations as an option to improve the mystery box as a whole. We opted for Burning/Frozen corpse piles which were not only macabre but also really large and impactful in hideouts. The Fire and Ice Bricks also take up a lot of room in the hideout and can be easily used to make structures. The Fire and Ice Gales are as easy at it gets. You simply place them down in your hideout and all of a sudden you've got a full hideout effect going.

We were pleased with the response to the hideout decorations this time around and we'll be looking at ways to replicate this in future mystery boxes.

In addition to the combining technology, we had another surprise in the Fire and Ice Mystery Box: new golem skins! These are the first golem skins that we've released so far. We do have other ones in development but compared to other microtransactions they are much more time-intensive as they require several animations and other effects to work properly as a combative entity. We'll be releasing more of them as soon as we can.

Designing new mystery boxes is always a fun and interesting project. We've begun development on the next mystery box and once again we're quite excited about it. We'll be doing another dual-theme but this time we're going with something less literal, like the Chaos and Order theme. We're continuing to build upon what works with past mystery boxes and improve upon what doesn't. We really hope that you've had a blast opening your mystery boxes this league.

Mystery boxes have a huge impact on what development and growth is possible within the studio. We owe a huge thank you to everyone who has purchased one to support us going forward. Thank you so much.
Posted by
Grinding Gear Games
Lucky dips are fun. :)

Bex_GGG wrote:
This served the dual-purpose of being both thematically-appropriate and an interesting and unexpected way to soak up duplicates from the box.

And the elephant in the box: since you can't separate the merged pieces afterwards, it encourages players to buy more boxes if they want to have all three types (fire, ice, fire+ice)! Is it pay-to-win? Absolutely not. It totally fits within your boundaries of ethical microtransactions. But don't pretend it wasn't a clever way to get people to buy more gacha, eh? :)

As for the hideout stuff: I'll be much more interested when and if we can get hideout templates or some other form of cross-league hideout functionality. My one true hideout is on standard. I rarely play standard. So my league hideouts tend to be extremely spartan...
If I'm on this account and not the main one, chances are I'm waiting for Support to do something. It's fine, TencentGGG. I didn't want to play your stupid game anyway...baka.
Last edited by The_Scourge on Jan 10, 2018, 6:06:03 PM
Great stuff, but can you like remove decorations from the RNG boxes?

thanks :)
what about a sheep mtx for our golems?

Bex_GGG wrote:
Mystery boxes have a huge impact on what development and growth is possible within the studio.

i'm not sure if this is good or bad news. does that mean that boxes are so rewarding, they outclass even "sales" of your mtx?

the ability to combine mtx to remove doubles may seem like a great solution to solve double mtx but did you ever think on the other side? somebody not gambling has to pay full price for 2 mtx to get such item.

i really try to be positive but you're making your fullprice mtx more and more unattractive. is this intended?
Last edited by cronus on Jan 11, 2018, 9:21:07 AM
Feels bad not having any points or being able to.. feels bad
Good stuff
Awesome work GGG!
please,remove hideout decorations and put skin transfers,tab upgrades,premium tabs and stash tabs at lower rewards
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